April 14, 2014 at 1:00 am

They may be the pits, but our potholes stack up - or sink below - anybody's

Metro Detroit was left off Pothole.info's list of 10 worst cities for potholes. The area has its share, such as this one last month on Big Beaver between John R and Dequindre. (Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News)

On behalf of our potholes, I am offended. Or anyway, I was offended.

Now I’m fine, though, secure in the knowledge that our top-of-the-class, shatter-your-glass, like-a-crevasse, thou-shalt-not-pass, pain-in-the-(tailbone) potholes have not been insulted.

A list of America’s worst cities for potholes rolled through CNN and went zipping around the Internet last week, and we weren’t on it.

This was preposterous. Our newly sprouted potholes are so deep they have echoes and so wide they have ZIP codes. I will stack them up — or down — against anybody’s.

But here was a dishonor roll from Pothole.info of the 10 worst cities for potholes, and Detroit was ignored.

Half of the listings were from California, for heaven’s sake, including the top three of San Jose, Los Angeles and the Bay Area. They barely have freeze, so how could they have a respectable freeze-and-thaw?

Nobody dismisses my town and my potholes that easily. So I reached out to Pothole.info, where webmaster Bryan Jean says he has nothing but admiration for Metro Detroit’s potholes — and that the list was a fraud.

“We didn’t put one out this year,” he explains. Not only that, the list doesn’t seem to match anything Pothole put out before.

It’s a scam, a sham, a slam-bam flimflam, a typical attempt to deny Detroit its due. We’re the leader in abandoned houses, industrial ruins and the Central Division of the American League, and we will not be overlooked ... unless, of course, we fall into a sinkhole just outside Flat Rock and no one can see us.

Detroit's potholes not unknown

“Believe me,” says Jean, who lives near Boston. “I’ve heard about Detroit this year.”

Jean says Pothole.info is owned by a company in Miami called Easy Street Asphalt, and that “as you might imagine, they hate potholes. Or love ’em, however you want to put it.”

His personal mission is to “raise pothole awareness,” a relatively easy task when driving to Livonia is like driving through the La Brea Tar Pits.

Pothole.info also provides bits of pothole history, like the notion that the word “pothole” dates from the Roman Empire when craftsmen helped themselves to pieces of roadways so they could make clay pots.

Since Roman roads weren’t actually made of clay, the site concedes, that’s unlikely, but it’s a good story — better, certainly, than the fiction that Kansas City, New Orleans and St. Louis have worse potholes than we do.

As long as we’re stuck with our craters, I’m choosing to take pride in them, even if it’s a peculiar and perverse pride.

Just like the Lions

Remember 2008, when the Detroit Lions became the first NFL team to lose all 16 games?

By the end of the season, you had to root against them, because if they kept losing we’d have witnessed history and otherwise we’d just have wasted four months watching a bad team.

It’s the same with potholes.

A few weeks ago, our household teenager plowed through two gaping potholes a few days apart and I had to replace three rims.

On a 15-year-old sedan with 197,000 miles on the odometer.

That I was selling.

If those are just standard potholes, I’m out $300 for no reason, and I’m steamed.

I’m steamed that he somehow didn’t see holes in the pavement the size of crop circles, steamed that the closest tire shops didn’t stock used rims, and steamed that our roads are made of oatmeal fused with Bisquick.

But that’s no way to go through life, so I’ve decided to relish my role in something larger than myself, sometimes literally. I’m refusing to believe that things could be this awful and at the same time only be average.

So we have stupendous potholes. Fabulous potholes. Tire-popping, jaw-dropping, traffic-stopping, brow-mopping potholes. And we’re No. 1.

nrubin@detroitnews.com
(313) 222-1874