A Piano Kills Fascists
By David Stone
Here’s an Update: October 3rd, 2020
As the first COVID autumn falls on New York City, I was happy finding Colin Huggins playing his “machine” that “kills fascists” on the west side of Washington Square Park.
This is no mean feat, and his commitment to his craft and his life’s philosophy shouts across a recovering city.
A quick sample of the craft…
Walking through Washington Square in the village forced us into a detour. A massive cloud of B.O., from who knows where, sent us toward an exit on the east side of the park.
We held our breaths, and we walked fast.
B.O. has probably never brought such good luck, but this time, it steered us to Colin Huggins and the grand piano he tugs into the park to play for tips.
Colin Huggins and a Piano that Kills Fascists
Huggins was once a reasonably sane person who accompanied dancers for the Joffrey Ballet.
For a steady paycheck.
But in 2007, at 29, he decided to busk instead, giving up security and boredom for freedom and creativity.
It was tough going at first. He got chased from Father Demo and Union Squares because complaints poured in about the large crowds he attracted. He was penalized for success in 2011, fined over $6K by the city for playing the piano.
The motto, “This Machine Kills Fascists,” inscribed on both sides of his piano, is borrowed from Woody Guthrie.
Wrapping up, he invites audience members for a rare experience, laying down under his piano while he plays pieces by Rachmaninoff and Phillip Glass.
It’s a cheap thrill. He suggests tips but says it’s not mandatory.
Huggins plays for love.
And you can see and hear it right here. This is from 2017, but his generous performances are still the same.
CBS This Morning broadcast a report, way back in 2011:
If you’re in or coming to New York, you can see how Colin Huggins’s piano kills fascist on the East Side of Washington Square Park on Saturdays, all year round.