Most notoriously known in this neck of the woods for his role as Ralph Cifaretto on "Sopranos," Hoboken native Joe Pantoliano, aka Joey Pants, returned to his stomping grounds of Second and Monroe Streets Thursday night for a book signing. It's hard to believe that Pantoliano, who has acted in films like "The Matrix," "Memento" and "Goonies," and won an Emmy, could suffer from clinical depression. Moreover, it's hard to believe that he could muster up the courage to speak so openly about his struggles in both his writing and live hometown conversation. Yet this is exactly what Joey Pants has done. Here in the Mile Square to sign his second book, "Asylum," Pantoliano mused about the "old neighborhood" on Thursday and how tough growing up was for him while at A’Putia Pastry & Cafe and adjoining shop Hoboken Hot House Home & Garden.
Hoboken Hot House recently opened its second location at the iconic corner where Pantoliano spent some of his formidable years. Aside from coffee and pastries, the dual location offers rustic furnishings, a quaint event space and a sizable outdoor patio.
Pantoliano signed copies of his first (Who's Sorry Now - which mentions all of his Hoboken addresses) and second (Asylum) books at the pastry shop and neighboring store front. Guests listened to live music, ate cake from Carlo's Bakery and fresh Muzz from Lisa's Italian Deli and tasted light wine and Prosecco from (soon to open at 1450 Washington) "Cork" Wine and Spirits. Joey Pants and his lovely wife Nancy checked out the 202 Monroe Street property, where Pantoliano jokingly pointed out some key tour points in which he "lost his innocence." Pantoliano also pointed out that the "stoop" and railing had changed from the cover of his book to now because the city "had to make it pretty." Some components still remained though - like Pantoliano's same leather jacket that he wore on the cover of "Who's Sorry Now." (He was wearing the same staple jacket at the book signing).
Pantoliano has also started a charity called No Kidding, Me Too! to stop those who are afflicted with mental illness from being treated any differently, labeled, or isolated. Having suffered from clinical depression; Pantoliano looked to remove the stigma and break down any social barriers surrounding mental illness. In his brave book "Asylum" he tackled his personal challenges in an open and honest memoir that has received high praise. To find out more about his organization, visit NKM2.org. Pantoliano said that both of his books are also available on audio.
(Amanda Palasciano, Joe Pantoliano and 4th Ward Councilman Tim Occhipinti)