A new memoir by Joe Montaperto


1990. It wasn’t too long ago that 30 year old Joe Montaperto was a rising young comic on the New York City circuit - performing with the likes of John Stewart and John Leguizamo. Now, he sits in his childhood bedroom of his parent’s New Jersey home, babbling endlessly to his ever-present Napoleon statue at three in the morning. The only time he laughs these days is watching reruns of the old 60s TV series - Lost In Space. And he’s afraid of napkins.

Desperate to find meaning in his life, his decade long journey leads him to a lengthy and rigorous stint at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, and a tumultuous, yet undeniably exciting relationship with a spiritual bipolar woman.

When she later dumps him for a heroin-addicted jazz musician, he returns to the world of catering, wandering the city streets brokenhearted and aimless. During his strolls, he becomes increasingly appalled by the proliferation of Starbucks, and driven by outrage, decides to become a social activist. He creates a one-man show as his form of political protest (Four Degrees of Disconnection), and is surprised by the successful reception. It seems he is back on the road to stardom.

Until 9/11.

Will he ever overcome his fear of napkins? More importantly - will he ever get out of catering alive?


Nobody gets out of catering alive

Available in Paperback and eBook


Let me start off by saying I can’t do a review of this book without offering a glimpse into the man who wrote it. With that said, where the hell do I start? I’ll start with the couple of names I have given him. I know this man – the first one says it all (it is a compliment for sure) Crazy Joe. And the second is Giuseppe Squadolomats. Why do I call him crazy, because he is crazy, in the best sense of the word. He’s honest, he’s legit and he’s as raw as they come. Giuseppe S? Because he is Italian and he is from New York and New Jersey. Imagine that for a moment.

To begin with, he and I met at a Tibetan Buddhist Center in Vermont. Wait a minute, CJ in Vermont and at a Buddhist Center and in Vermont. No way! But there he was. Oh, and is this guy is funny. He is his version of a stand up comedian. Worked his ass off to make this happen! Joe is no phony! What you see is what you get with this guy. OK, enough of Joe. On to the book.

And his writing is powerful, revealing and it ain’t phony either. Joe is a tough motherfucker and as gentle as a kitten, all wrapped into one, a very simple yet complicated man.

Now the book: Nobody Gets Out Alive. Well it’s vintage Crazy Joe. Some high and mighty reviewers might refer to this book as self-indulgent. I choose to refer to it as self-honesty, brutal honesty at times. My sense his writing is his medicine. For the reader it begs you to look in the mirror; I mean really look in the mirror. What are you willing to see? Not see? Let this book by Crazy Joe be your guide, your mentor.

Let’s start at the beginning. Take a look at the cover. It says it all: notice the tiny little Buddha sitting on the road on lower right side. It says it all. The Buddha had nothing in the material world. But he did have the highway, the road, the mountains, the sky, the vastness of it all. The path, the road is long, it’s barren, yet the sky is blue and open. That’s CJ (I will now reference him as CJ). He is on his own spiritual journey, searching, wanting to find relief from his suffering, wanting to find the “truth” and is willing to put his life on the line, never taking a break.

The world according to CJ is brutal, yet there is this amazing humor, this amazing sense of life, of poetry, of women, of embracing, even a loving of being on the edge. He speaks to his anger, his love and need of women, his version of freedom, “drugs, sex and rock and roll” and is he is willing to share his deepest darkest fears. And you know what? Hell no, he ain’t working no 9 to 5 gig. He is wonderfully fearless; unwilling to conform. Chapter after chapter speaks to the power, depth and beauty of the book and the author.

I also notice he is a scammer- but what is he scamming? Who is he scamming? And why is he scamming? For example, he scams his way into staying in a spiritual community (Omega Institute) that offers him solace and a way to continue his journey and yes, even escape from the world of daily life and monotony. Oh, he lives and eats there for free, well almost free. And he meets these women at these places.

He connects, he embraces and yearns to give and yearns to receive but somewhere along the way things fall apart and there he is feeling remorse, confusion and a hidden sense of relief. Ah, he gets his freedom back. Or does he?

This urban mastermind even gets lost in the dessert while on a hike. A downpour of heavy rain hits him head on and he survives. Oh, he hears wolves howling and all the dessert has to offer that pull up your fears. He’s not shy about telling his humanness. He tenderizes our hearts, maybe without knowing that’s what he is offering us chapter after chapter. His main love in life is lying in the sun. He doesn’t care where or how he does it, he just has to do it! And this is wonderfully balanced by his sharing his dedication to meditation through the lens of Buddhism. I mean this guy has done long silent retreats with several different teachers. Long translates to 10 days of total silence and some up to 30 days. This takes dedication, commitment and even courage. It offers him wisdom, insight, patience and a softening of his heart.

Let me also speaks to his politics. He ain’t a fan of Starbucks, Monsanto, and other corporate/capitalist giants and makes no bones about it. He loves New York city because there are still a few restaurants that cater to every day Joe’s appetites (no pun intended).

And to help himself articulate and communicate to us he even attends the Henry George School of Social Science taking an 8 course certificate program which he completes. As he says, he wants knowledge because knowledge offers power. He wants to communicate and dialogue with people regarding his views.

This takes the reader to the book and the title – Nobody Gets Out of Catering Alive... but somehow he manages not only to get out alive but to tell us about. His catering life is his heaven and his hell. Mostly his hell. But it’s a source of money, it has flexible work times and so on. Just what he wants and needs, to continue his search freedom!

For the final truth. This guy in this book pours his heart out. This is not gratuitous bantering this is from his heart. He is willing to put it out there, lay it on the line acknowledging and sharing his deepest fears but the willingness to do anything to keep his sense of freedom. Nothing gratuitous here with this guy. I leave you with the beginning portion of his last words:

“I’m outta here! See ya! I don’t know what the hell is going to happen to me… I’m scared shit. I just gotta get the fuck out of here. Live or die! I’m alive right now, y’know? Sitting here at JFK Airport. Next stop-Ecuador. Yeah. I’m doing it, man! I’m going, and I don’t know for how long or where. Serious. Escape all the absurd contrivances of this silly society. Looking for the real deal. I just want to actually feel ALIVE.”

I can’t top that.

My ending comment. Read this book and reread it! Crazy Joe spills his guts and asks for nothing in return. His biggest reward would be for people to read this book. Not because he could use the money. He actually could! More importantly you might get shaken to the core and open your heart and reach in there and find your courage knocking at your door!! So, I end this with one word takeaway, COURAGE!
— Darryll Rudy
If a book’s purpose is to make the reader think, then this effort succeeds on many levels. One cannot read Montaperto’s work without looking inside themselves, comparing their own thoughts to those of Montaperto and his various characters, and, sometimes, wondering if they (or we as a whole) are walking along the correct path. Montaperto is a self-proclaimed entertainer. This book proves that he is correct, because once you start reading, you will not want to put it down. On the other hand, while he often wonders while recounting his life if he is wasting his time waiting tables at parties and writing his one-man show, his stories and musings show that, in that respect, he is completely incorrect.
— Andrew Wolfenson, Esq., attorney and author of In His Ex-Wife’s Defense and Deadly Fantasy: A Baseball Story

Montaperto’s done it again! In this latest installment of Joe’s recounts of his life, we find him navigating the highs and lows of his comedy career balanced by the sublime and tumultuous periods of his life, loves and ultimate “mind snaps” that seem to go hand in hand with catering in New York City. This book is whirlwind of a read, off beat, funny and genuine material that was difficult to put down!
— Peter Schuberth, ninja, multidisciplinary designer and hospitality guru