Saturday, January 30, 2010

Au revoir Alphaville

I meant to blog this when I got back from New York a few weeks ago. I was saddened to learn that Alphaville, the antique toy shop on West Houston just across from Film Forum, is closing up shop after 16 years. I'd always wondered how such a specialized shop could make do in such a large space. The co-owner told me that wasn't a problem, as they had an understanding landlord. The prospects of an expensive heater repair helped the owners decide to call it a day. They'll continue to operate online, but I'll miss stopping in there before a movie to browse the display cases:

And, more often than not, get my fix of Italian 3-D plastic. As you can see above, they stocked their share of kittens and puppies, and the owner kept an eye out for 3-D popes for me. But it was this horrifying subgenre that I will remember best:

nero fiddled

I mean, how do you look that up on eBay? Alphaville was also good for the occasional lenticular teddy bear cottage:

Thanks Alphaville! And if you happen on one of these, save me two!

Friday, January 08, 2010

RIP Sandro

This piece first appeared in a slightly different form on

A year ago this week, near the end of a whirlwind holiday trip to South America, I walked into the magnificent El Ateneo bookstore in Buenos Aires. I looked through the Argentine DVDs for something to remember the country by. On a whim led by cover art that spoke some strange yet familiar sentiment to me, I picked up a movie starring Roberto Sanchez, aka Sandro. This is the trailer for that movie:

My homie and I watched it that night, and were immediately transfixed by his infectious gyrations, now rhythmic, now melodramatic. On our last night in Argentina we went back to El Ateneo for more Sandro for her and for friends back home, but nobody else really seemed to recognize his swarthy awesomeness.

English-language obituaries call him the Elvis of Argentina, though Sandro's musical hips are attached to a dramatic ham that Elvis never showed in his movies. Sandro's entertainment was no less than an alchemical explosion of equal parts Tom Jones and Richard Burton.

Sandro died on January 4th, from complications arising from a lung and heart transplant. He was 64. In an interview with Mitre Radio, excerpted in the Star Tribune, Sandro curses his fate:
I am debilitated because I cannot move. My life is my bed, my spot in the dining room where I read the newspaper, and from there I do not move, I am to blame for the condition that I am in. I deserve it; I sought it out. I picked up this damn cigarette.
May flights of angels hip-shake thee to your rest, Senor.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

eye smoke, eye drank, eye supposedta stop but eye can't

My Eyes On Stuff, a new tumblr page documenting exercises in modern identity. Am currently soliciting book offers, cases of Cristal, and money - 'cause it glows.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

sometimes when we record at extended play

In the 80's, I asked a high school chum, who shall remain nameless but who is a FB contact (apropriately enough, I also remember lending him a philosophy textbook, which he left in his car during a pouring rain; he returned the book to me besotted with water damage, and our Philosophy teacher pointed to it's damage as an indicator of how much its owner referred to it. I never corrected his assumption) to tape Lord Love a Duck for me, off a broadcast station (WBFF 45, a Baltimore station) I couldn't get well in DC. The tape was full of dropouts and transmission problems, and though I taped over it long ago, and the movie is now available in a pristine DVD transfer, I sometimes wish I could watch it again broadcast problems and all. The tracking (and audio) problems in these clips of similar vintage are the video-age equivalent to the patina of scratches and emulsion damage seen in neglected celluloid prints of the silent era. Cf: the time I saw a faded-to-pink print of Lasse Halstrom's Abba movie. Via lapinfille.