Sooner or later a symbol as sacred as little Elian Gonzalez is bound to be mangled by some punk kid. Enter sixteen-year-old George Rodriguez of Newport Gestapo. Never mind that Rodriguez is the grandson of Guillermo Rodriguez Feiffe, Cuban composer of standards such as "La Negra Tomasa." Never mind that Rodriguez came into the world nearly a decade after the Ramones' self-titled debut stillbirthed the genre. Rodriguez was born and bred in Hialeah. He's pissed and he's punk.
"Hialeah Hialeah/Pride runs like diarrhea./Hialeah Hialeah/Welcome to Hell's new frontier." The black-clad teenager, wrist manacled by a studded leather bracelet, is abusing his bass and screaming Johnny Rotten into the mike. In casual shirts and shorts, his elder bandmates, original punks Victor Garcia-Rivera on guitar and Jim Burke on drums, look subdued beside him. They've been playing punk since there was punk to be played. So why did Rodriguez jump in? "Because it's real," he explains. "There's something to believe in. It's angry."
"Concrete jungle and a strip-mall Hell/Every block has a no-tell motel./Going down Okeechobee in a silver Camaro/Ño Que Barato/y I ain't got no dinero." However much a lifetime along the Palmetto might justify rage, the sparse crowd this Thursday night at Tobacco Road is amused as Garcia-Rivera rips through chords and Rodriguez rips on the most Cuban town in the United States. "Mostly we play everywhere but Miami," says Garcia-Rivera, meaning from Davie's Club Q north.
Worried that the set is going on too long, Danny Jessup whispers something to Garcia-Rivera. Anxious to see how the song plays at home, the Gestapo jumps to "Cultural Warfare," the Elian number at the end of the playlist. Rodriguez takes the mike again, this time screaming: "We're all headed for a crash/Shark-bait rafters/And poor white trash." In what could in itself be a statement on our city's response to the Elian affair, no one seems to understand the words.