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Last Wet Dream

Where else but in a desert city facing inexorable drought can you find such a profligate gesture of civic hubris? The Will fountain — call it Triumph of the Will — isn’t just another firing squad of water jets and basins, it’s a veritable Niagara Falls that literally drowns out nearby conversations and soaks bystanders who come too close to its eastern edge. Dedicated to a forgotten county bureaucrat, this fountain is an excellent example of architectural white-guy-ism that nevertheless recalls Latin American waterworks more than it does traditional Euro-baroque squirts. Walking around the Will fountain in sunlight offers an inspiring variety of abstract bursts of refracted liquid light and rainbows. Nighttime, though, is a who-o-ole ’nother story for visitors heading from the subterranean parking levels to the Music Center across the street. Then, the darkened mall, with its abandoned cop car intended to ward off downtown’s zombie population, and the shuttered and haunting Starbucks, takes on a decidedly scary and postapocalyptic flavor. The fountain’s still splashing, all right, but now its illuminated waves are surrounded by deep shadows and the mall’s semitropical vegetation. You almost expect to glimpse Rod Taylor’s vehicle from The Time Machine hidden in the hydrangeas, and appreciate the wisdom of filming a key scene here from the 1976 LSD horror movie Blue Sunshine. Definitely the kind of place that suggests what evenings will look like after all the people on Earth are gone and the world temporarily continues to run on pumps and timers. This is a great place to await the end of time, regardless of when it arrives. Day or night, April morn or Doomsday, sitting by the fountain will make a wonderful last statement about public spaces — one that says, “I care.”

Civic Center Mall, east of Grand St., between Temple and ?First sts., dwntwn.


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