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Why don't Americans throw rocks when we're all roiled up?

I've been so impressed by all the photos coming out of Iran. All those people upset about the recent election fraud, yelling, throwing stones, running right into the breach of whatever the authorities throw at them. I can't imagine Americans doing that.

Yeah, some brave souls congregate on the White House lawn when something really twists their knickers. Sometimes we even hold candlelight vigils, but as recently as 2000, when George W. Bush stole the presidential election, we didn't do much but tuck our tails between our legs and hit the Prozac.

See, we are a nation of laws and pills. But not stones.

Not that I'm advocating stones. However, while driving down Speedway Boulevard, and seeing what used to be a perfectly nice restaurant between Wilmot and Craycroft roads now taken over by a concern advertising off-track betting, I did get a twinge, recognized forthwith, as the urge to throw stones.

Off-track betting joints used to congregate in South Tucson or near the freeway, but the fact that they're creeping eastward represents an oozing of sleaze through the Old Pueblo. If this doesn't bring this recession home, then nothing will.

Off-track betting means the people in the bar can place bets while watching the action at the local greyhound (or horse) track in air-conditioned comfort while hollering and rooting for their favorites. Their favorites, meanwhile, frequently break hocks or toes, and can die of exertion or overheating while sitting in cages stacked in warehouses euphemistically called "kennels," suffering from heat, confinement and despair.

But, no, this kind of thing does not get Americans, let alone Tucsonans, roiled up.

However, I did find it interesting that on the very next block, I saw a woman holding a sign that read, "Repent. Turn to Jesus." This seemed so very quaint—not the sign necessarily, but the word "repent."

Most people probably don't know what the word "repent" means anymore. It's anachronistic and old-fashioned. She would have done better with a sign that said, "Quit being such an asshole. Turn to Jesus."

Not that turning to Jesus excludes being an asshole. I've met plenty of assholes who've turned to Jesus, but you get my point.

The off-track betting bar and the woman with the sign got me all nostalgic for a time I never knew—the real Depression, the one following the stock market crash of 1929. In those days, people wanting other people to repent wore sandwich-board signs, items involving two slabs of plywood and straps. These signs served the dual purpose of advertising either repentance or whatever the '30s equivalent of off-track betting was, and covering body parts best left unexposed. This was a good thing. In those days, lots of people couldn't afford clothes.

Ah, that "other depression." That was some serious depressioning. My grandfather, a dentist, used to tell tales of accepting garden produce and live chickens in payment for yanking a rotten molar or filling a cavity. Eventually, he had to close his practice. The landlord wanted real money, and Gramps didn't have any of that.

I think one of the reasons Americans don't take to the streets like the Iranians is that they're too out of shape. Taking to the streets takes a lot of exertion, and if you're carrying 40 or 50 extra pounds, you're just not going to have the energy for it. Even if you're not overweight, but your muscles are all flaccid from sitting in front of computer terminals or watching endless reruns of NCIS and House on television, they're going to balk at heading to the streets to throw rocks. Sometimes, discretion really is the better part of, if not valor, sound thinking—and if you get out there and chuck a couple of rocks at anyone, like political figures or riot police, you might finally send that sore shoulder over the edge and have to get that rotator-cuff surgery you've been putting off since the year 2000, when you injured it initially hefting all those beers at the local bar, drowning your sorrows over the election results. And since you don't have health insurance, that'll put you farther up shit creek than you already are.

No, I don't see Americans taking to the streets anytime soon. Jesus Obama is going to fix everything. After all, that is why we elected him, isn't it?

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