RIP Sandro

This piece first appeared in a slightly different form on blogcritics.org.

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.

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