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Lake Elsinore Storm 90

Notice: All logos on this page are included within the parameters of 17 U.S.C. § 107, which states that the reproduction of a copyrighted work for purposes of criticism and/or comment is not an infringement of copyright. No challenge to the copyrights of these logos is intended by their inclusion here.
Posted 2014 July 13

The Lake Elsinore Storm play at Lake Elsinore Diamond, which is a monument to unforced errors. No, wait, that's not quite right. Lake Elsinore Diamond is home to a monument which is an unforced error. Or at least, the proposed home to a monument which is an unforced error.

Back in April 2012, the City Countil for Lake Elsinore came up with a brilliant idea. They wanted to put a veterans memorial in front of City Hall. This is hardly unusual, of course. The designs weren't particularly unusual, either — engravings of the insignia of the five branches of the military with some inspirational wording on them ("Lake Elsinore Veterans Memorial. This Memorial is dedicated to the men and women who served in our armed services. We shall never forget!"), placed either on a rectangular slab of granite, on a pentagonal slab of granite, or on a granite obelisk.

Then it occurred to someone that if you want to be serious about never forgetting, then you probably don't want to put the thing in front of City Hall because, seriously, who ever goes to City Hall? I can't even tell you where City Hall is for the city I live in. So someone decided that instead of putting the memorial in front of City Hall, they should put it in front of the baseball stadium. I can see that...the saying isn't "as American as City Hall and apple pie", is it? So the logical place to put it was either in front of the baseball stadium or in front of a local bakery that makes apple pie, and the city chose the baseball stadium. Then all of the owners of bakeries that make apple pie probably breathed a sigh of relief, because a veterans memorial may fill one's heart with patriotism but it doesn't fill one's stomach with hunger. In fact it might even make someone think, "Given all the sacrifices veterans have made, maybe I shouldn't go have a slice of pie", and that's the last thing a bakery owner wants you to think.

So the City Council discussed putting the memorial in front of the baseball stadium, and quickly agreed to do just that. (The stadium is owned by the city, incidentally, so getting permission from the owner wasn't a problem.)

At the same meeting, the Council also voted on which design they would go with, and what they decided was that they'd go with the obelisk design but they'd also form an ad hoc committee to change the design. Or to put it more succinctly, they decided that they were going to go with the obelisk except no not really.

By now, you should be trembling with fear at what's going to happen next. I've already given you all the foreshadowing that should be necessary to realize something scary is coming, because I said the scariest word in the English language: "committee".

The committee's plan was released at a meeting in August, and the best way to describe it is that it was exactly what you would expect a committee to come up with. First, they changed the shape to an old-fashioned tombstone. Then they changed the inspirational wording. They also added several new elements to the memorial, because of course there's not a monument in the world that can't be improved by randomly cramming as much incoherent symbolism into it as possible. They added an eagle flying through the sky, which may say "America" but doesn't exactly say "veteran". They added an American flag waiving in the breeze, which also may say "America" but doesn't exactly say "veteran". They added a kneeling soldier, which may say "veteran" but doesn't exactly say "Navy veteran", "Air Force veteran", or "Coast Guard veteran". And then they realized that there wasn't room for all this and the insignia of the five armed forces, so they did what was clearly the only logical thing they could do with a memorial for members of the armed forces: they removed the insignia of the armed forces. Maybe they thought that the eagle was close enough to an airplane to satisfy the Air Force, and that since boats sometimes have flags the Navy and Coast Guard were covered?

But then the committee members realized that after removing all those symbols, there was a little bit of blank space left on the memorial. Oh no, they thought, we must add more symbols to fill the space! So they added a cross, because nothing symbolizes the armed forces of a country that guarantees religious freedom in its constitution like the symbol of a single religion.

So this new memorial came before the City Council, and they voted on it. And they were all set to approve it when some citizens spoke up and said you know, I really don't think a city putting a religious symbol on a memorial is constitutional. The city attorney was also at the meeting, and he said they're right, it's not constitutional. So the Council looked at the committee and said hey, guess what, you need to change this design to make it slightly less unconstitutional. And that's great except for one little detail, which is that this is still a committee we're dealing with.

The committee went back to discuss how to make the memorial slightly less unconstitutional and, in a stroke of inspired genius that shows why committees have the reputation they have, came up with the perfect way to make it okay. They added more crosses. Oh, and just for good measure, they added a single Star of David, too. Now, no one could possibly say they were ignoring everyone who wasn't a member of the dominant religion. No, now they were just ignoring most of the people who weren't members of the dominant religion.

The City Council weren't worried about this, because they had God on their side. Also, what veterans group would complain about it? Then a veterans group complained about it. And the City Council still didn't worry, because like I said, they had God on their side. Then the veterans group actually sued. But really, so what? Sure, every case of this sort that had gone to court in the past thirty or forty years had ended with the courts siding with the plaintiffs, but there's a first for everything, right?

Perhaps, but this wasn't it.

As a result, the city has spent over four times the amount of money they originally set aside for the monument just paying for the plaintiff's attorney fees. Oh, and they don't actually have the monument yet. They did at least have sense enough to decide not to appeal the decision, and they've come up with a new design that doesn't violate the constitution. They've replaced the crosses and Star of David with a "battlefield grave" (a rifle stuck barrel first into the ground, with a soldier's helmet sitting atop the butt of the rifle). They've also gotten rid of the flag; apparently they weren't certain exactly what was unconstitutional and wanted to hedge their bets. They still don't have anything representing the Air Force, Navy, or Coast Guard, and it's still shaped like a tombstone, but when you're dealing with a committee there are limits on how much improvement you can reasonably expect.

If the baseball team that actually plays at this stadium took a side in all of this, I haven't found any evidence of it. I'm guessing that they said nothing because they are patriotic Americans, and just like all patriotic Americans, they don't care who you are as long as you give them money. If that's not the American Way, I don't know what is.

Or maybe it's because they know that with a logo like theirs, they really have no room to complain about incoherent symbolism. For reasons that totally escape me, the team decided that the best way to represent a storm is a pair of demonic eyes. I suppose that if one really wants to reach a bit, one can say that the "Storm" in question is a hurricane, and that this represents one of those rare two-eyed hurricanes. Uh-uh. I'm not buying it. Yes, once in a great while a hurricane will have multiple eyes, but those eyes will not be the sort with irises and pupils and brows. Besides, in recorded history there are only four cases of a tropical storm or hurricane hitting the western United States, and not even all four of those affected California (a couple came ashore in Mexico and travelled northeast into Arizona). No, this is a classic case of "Oh crap, we named our team after an abstract concept so let's come up with something random to represent it." The official logo also includes the word "STORM" written in a style that looks like vaguely akin to one of those stereotypical "Chinese" looking fonts. I have no idea what that's supposed to represent.

I think they should ask someone local for help, but just one person. The last thing we need is another design by committee.

Final Score: 90 points.
Penalties: Singular, 15 pts; Letter, 24 pts; Irrelevance, 39 pts; Logo, 12 pts.
Bonuses: None.


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