Monday, August 9, 2010

John Legend in Coney Island

The sun sets on John Legend

Coney Island hasn't been that great to me.

Thursday night was an exception. John Legend was playing in a Coney Island park as part of the free summer concert series. His music isn't the type I'm normally drawn to, but I heard a lot of him -- and a lot about him -- when I was a newspaper reporter in Springfield, Ohio, John Legend's hometown. I ended up really liking him.

In fact, Springfield held a free John Legend concert right before we moved to New York. I didn't go, and I regret it. I didn't want to make the same mistake twice.

I don't know how many people were there, but by the time we arrived we had to lay out our blanket on a part of the park that was more dirt than grass, far enough away from the stage that we could tell where he was only because of the spotlight.

I knew I would love the concert, but I was more surprised about how Coney Island has changed in the short time that we've lived here. Our apartment is a mere 30-minute train ride away, but this is only the fifth time I've been there. Most trips have been less than spectacular:

First visit to Coney Island, May 2008: Rode the Cyclone with out-of-town friends. Severe neck pain followed, and I didn't feel back to normal for four days.

Second visit to Coney Island, Aug. 2008: My first experience at the summer concert series -- this time, Huey Lewis and the News. I had fun, but I was surprised at how dingy and deserted the neighborhood felt at night, when the concert was over.

Third visit to Coney Island
, May 2009: My parents wanted a real Nathan's hot dog and to see what all the fuss over Coney Island was about. Not much, as they found out. The skies were gray, the weather was freezing and the place was empty.

Fourth visit to Coney Island, May 2009: Probably remembering how cold the neighborhood was earlier in the month, I put on a long-sleeve shirt to meet Paul near the boardwalk after he finished the Brooklyn Half-Marathon. I was nearly as hot as Paul after he finished the 13-mile race.

OK, so except for the whiplash, my visits to Coney Island haven't been that bad. But last week's was definitely the best of all. The place was lively and had new rides and bright neon lights. It made me resolve to return and take a spin on the Wonder Wheel after all . Maybe visit No. 6 isn't too far away.

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