Laughing waters

Even if you’ve never been to Las Vegas, you probably know about the fountains at the Bellagio, which are as much a symbol of the city as the Gateway Arch is of St. Louis or the statue of Kamehameha I is of Honolulu.

What you don’t get from the pictures, though, is that the leaping jets of water are choreographed to music blasted out over the lake. These comes in sets of 3 (every 30 minutes during the day, every 15 minutes during the evening, when the sidewalk around the lake is crowded and various street hucksters set up).

I had never expected Vegas to be ironical, still less self-deprecatory, but I was wrong.

The first song in the set I watched was “Hey Big Spender,” catchy, brassy and apparently written for the occasion (“Hey, big spender, spend a little time with me”). The next was equally appropriate, “Viva Las Vegas.”

The third tune was unexpected: “Simple Gifts.”

This one, however, was instruments only, no vocal. Still, I know the words, and “It’s a gift to be simple” was decidedly odd coming under the sponsorship of the Bellagio.