Election Day: Calle Ocho Never Fails to Entertain

Vote for the Emperor of the Galaxy. Who is this guy?

5:15 p.m.

You've got to give Elian Misael credit for bringing something different to Election Day.

"No Obama! No McCain!" Miseal screams, dressed head-to-toe in black and pacing the sidewalk in front of Versailles as rush-hour traffic hums past.

Grinning beneath dark sunglasses, his fingernails painted black, Misael waves a homeless-guy-quality cardboard sign. Scrawled in Spanish, it reads: "No Obama/McCain! Vote for the President of the Galaxy, The Emperor."

That, apparently, would be Misael.

"I am the emperor of the galaxy," he explains calmly.

"So are you on the ballot?" Riptide asks.

Misael smiles knowingly, jabbing a thumb at his chest. "That's me. I am the president," he says, his English halting. "Of the galaxy."

A dozen paces south, in front of the entrance to the fabled home of Cuban cooking and conservative politics, a slightly less deluded group is gathered. About a dozen men wearing "Insane 4 McCain" T-shirts wave signs and blow air horns at the passing cars, many of which honk enthusiastically.

"This is a fantastic day. We're all excited to be here on the day John McCain wins," says Alfredo Santos, age 59.

Santos begins to explain why he supports McCain when a silver pickup truck slows near the curb. At least a dozen young boys are in back and start pounding on the side. "Obama! Obama!" they shout. "Obama!"

"Obama is a rapper!" screams back Yasseto Torres, age 30, blowing an air horn and jogging toward the pickup. "He is just a rapper!"

The pickup speeds away and Torres elaborates. "He is a rapper. He speaks well, he has an entourage, he's famous," Torres says. "He shouldn't be running this country. It's like this guy Chavez, it's like Castro all over again."

"He don't know nothing. At least McCain has experience, he's a hero," Santos says. "Obama, he's not even a Christian."

"You know he's not a Muslim, right?" Riptide asks.

"You don't know your history!" Santos says. "He grew up a Muslim; his relatives are Muslim. You need to read about this guy."

Santos begins to elaborate on how Obama's tax cuts for the middle class will herald a turn to Castro-style Communism when another commotion breaks out. It's the pickup again.

"Obama! Obama!" the boys in the back yell happily, laughing.

"He's just a rapper!" Torres says, chasing after the pickup as it drives down Calle Ocho and into the sunset.

-- Tim Elfrink

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink