Ooooh shall we see what’s in here?
Edinburgh has a long history of being home to any number of eccentrics, oddballs and political stuntsmen, so it’s a delight to find that this tradition is far from dead . Down on the sand at Portobello (at the nice Joppa end) stands a tent in which sits a piano.
The owner of the tent, Ben Treuhaft an American piano tuner, with a history of mischief and political pranksterism, has set up a anarchic popular people’s piano tent . And strangely popular it has turned out to be.
Ben has form. Ten years ago, to the spluttering incandescent outrage of the American powers that be Ben sought to “Senda Piano To Cuba” to aid the people there be able to enjoy and appreciate music. Certainly the US state did not see it that way and accused him of “Trading With The Enemy” which seems a bit stiff, and fined him severely. No sense of humour some people.
Treuhaft’s family background may give him some instinct in causing a stooshie. His parents were among the past century’s more famous American activists, as well as former Communists—the irreverent late writer Jessica Mitford and Oakland civil rights lawyer Robert Treuhaft. Robert was a prominent communist and civil rights lawyer who ran one of the largest liberal law firms in New York City. Famously Hillary Clinton got her first position there. Jessica was a muck raking journalist and very funny writer most famous for “The American Way of Death” and was a member of the infamous English Mitford sisters. So Ben can count the Duchess of Devonshire as an aunt whist another Aunty Unity was a famous companion of Hitler’s. Jessica’s first husband was a nephew of Winston Churchill. It’s fair to say that with this family behind him Ben will relish controversy.
Now how long Ben can maintain his tent for the people and their music is moot. Tomorrow the City of Edinburgh Council, who have the control of the beach, are seeking to evict him and the case appears in the Sheriff Court. As he says “I’m going to fight the eviction notice. It’s all ‘pi-anarchy’. The piano needs to stay there because the people of Portobello love it”.
Should be interesting!
Ben has won a short reprieve whilst he seeks legal representation. His advert is on the side of his tent.
Copyright David Macadam 2014