Volume 80, Number 15 | September 9 - 15, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photos by Lincoln Anderson
A new (well, used) piano and new building on square
With the help of a piano-tuner friend, Colin Huggins, “The Crazy Piano Guy,” seated above, was getting his new instrument ready to play last Friday in Washington Square Park. He had just bought it from a woman in Battery Park City, and said he likes it better than the baby grand he had been playing. Not only does the new piano project sound louder, it also weighs far less than the 750-pound baby grand, which made it a pain to wheel around. How well a piano wheels on dollies is an important factor for Huggins, 32, since he keeps it in the Manhattan Mini Storage at Varick and Spring Sts. and rolls it from there to Washington Square to play. An Atlanta native, he was classically trained in Germany. He’s been playing outdoors in New York City for almost four years now — and was the inspiration for the recent public-art affair that saw pianos put out in city parks and public spaces for anyone to play for free. The organizer of that event didn’t place a piano in Washington Square, however, out of respect for Huggins — and gave him a courtesy call about it beforehand. Huggins plays everything from Lady Gaga to Beethoven. While he does respect Gaga’s tunes, he says it’s when he’s doing Beethoven’s “Inventions,” with his hands flying all over the keys, that the crowd, young and old, goes wild. Last Friday, he had set up for the first time under the arch, wanting to try its acoustics; but he eventually moved to his usual spot on the southwest side of the fountain plaza. Huggins used to live in Williamsburg but tired of always taking the L train, and now lives on Canal St. in the Chinatown area. Meanwhile, on the other side of the square, construction continues on New York University’s new Center for Academic and Spiritual Life. It looked like the project may have been “topped out,” or built to its full height, but details were not available by deadline.