Identity crises abound this month. Paul Allen has sold the naming rights to the Rose Garden arena to the insurance company formerly named ODS Health Plans, itself struggling to reestablish its identity after changing its name to Moda earlier this year. This has sparked a protest movement, "Rose Garden Forever," wanting Mr. Allen's enterprise to turn down the $40 million and leave the name unchanged, or at least leave "Rose Garden" in the name somewhere.
It wasn't that long ago -- only in 1995, in fact, a Laquedemian blink of an eye -- that Mr. Allen ignited protests when he announced that he would name his new arena the Rose Garden, muscling over the famous Rose Garden in Washington Park. "How can he take this historic Portland name for himself?" Portlanders complained back then. Ah, well, we've got over it, and have accepted "Rose Garden" for its reference to our city's nickname, the City of Roses.
The hidden joke is not in the Rose Garden's name, but in the history of Moda's name. Before it called itself ODS, it was Oregon Dental Systems, a name it abbreviated to ODS as it moved into the broader field of medical insurance. Having now disposed of the last remnant of "Oregon" in its own name, to advertise that quirky fact to its Oregon customers, it's paying to remove the Portland reference from the Rose Garden too.