Performances start tomorrow at 59E59 of Brooklynite Paul Bomba’s first fully produced play in New York, The Man Under, an “urban love story” set in the city’s subway tunnels. We caught up with Bomba—also an actor, the managing and producing director of Animus Theatre Company, and a subway explorer—to ask him about the best tunnels in the city, and his other favorite places in Brooklyn.
What neighborhood do you live in?
After theatre school, I needed a place that was cheap and close enough to my people in Brooklyn. I grew up in Gravesend, and my parents are still out there, so I got this place in Borough Park with some friends. They’ve since left, but I’m still out there, about four years now… About half way between Avenue U and the city.
Best abandoned subway tunnel?
I’m really looking forward to The Lowline, but until then there’s that old abandoned Myrtle Ave. station you see as you pass between DeKalb and the Manhattan Bridge. It’s called Masstransiscope, and was created by artist Bill Brand. Recently, some jerk has gone and defaced it. I would like to get whoever did that in a room and give them a really stern talking talking to.
Best active subway tunnel?
Definitely The Freedom Tunnel. Don’t be idiots, people; it’s really really dangerous. Use the interwebs for that. But that’s very much kind of what I am imagining for my play. Something really breathtaking—beautiful and gritty. Lots of metaphorical images, etc.
Best place to people watch?
Any place that’s culturally rich and feels strange to you. I walk down Thirteenth Avenue in Brooklyn and it raises so many questions… Bedford Avenue on the Northside is equally mindboggling, as is the stretch between Roll N’ Roaster and the El Greco Diner in Sheepshead Bay. Go there on a summer evening, and I guarantee you’ll be shocked at what you see.
Best place to drink?
I’m frequenting the Fourth Avenue bar scene these days. 4th Ave Pub and Cherry Tree are favorites. If I feel like actually talking to other people, I’m in love with Mission Delores. If I need to relax, I’ll get an Old Fashioned at Temple on Lafayette—that’s Manhattan.
I’d say best cheap eats is 218 Grand Restaurant. Get the “crispy pig with skin on rice,” make sure they give you the real menu. Don’t accept the “tourist” menu. Pearl Oyster Bar on Cornelia Street is another love of mine. Who knew skate was so good? But the absolute best is Spumoni Gardens. It’s the best pizza on the planet, period.