Making potholes into art

When he reached Jefferson Park, Bachor turned down Argyle Street, which, around Roberts Square Park, becomes narrow and residential. He was a block from Beaubien Elementary School, and it was the end of the school day. Parents sat in SUVs, reading their cellphones. "I think we have a winner," Bachor said, nodding toward a large, perfectly round pothole somewhat out of the center of the street. He got his measuring tape.

He raised his thumb.

"It's good," he said.

He got a broom from his minivan, swept stones from the pothole, then set up the traffic cones he had bought to teach soccer drills to his 7-year-old twin boys. "I think my next investment will be an orange vest," he said, mixing cement in a candy-cane-colored bucket. A school bus rumbled past. Bachor poured cement into the pothole, smoothing in round motions. Cars rolled by, the drivers glancing at Bachor, on his knees, but not stopping. Ann Yost, who lives nearby and was just home from work, walked over: "What's this?"

Bachor explained.

"Huh," she said. "The city actually did the streets here not that long ago, but they did a crap job of it. Well, obviously. So, what are we going to get then? Some kind of picture of a sun or a moon or something?"

She saw the pothole mosaic: "Oh, it's wonderful! I love that. Clever! Are you doing this on your own?"

"My own."

"Thank you for filling our pothole."

"All I do is give."

After an hour, as the cement settled, he slid the mosaic into place and patted it down, cleaning off dirt and mud. The more he attempted to spritz away the gunk, though, the muddier the mosaic became. He dabbed at it with towels but soon required more towels. He glanced up at the darkening clouds, waiting for the inevitable rain. Indeed, for the next two days, Bachor would return to Argyle, cleaning off the mosaic with a wire brush until it looked perfect. One nearby homeowner would bring him a Danish as a thank-you. But that first day, initial installation took about four hours. A man who lives across the street walked over with a thick roll of paper towels. Bachor, crouched on the street, scrubbing, looked up. Relief flooded over his face.

"Thank you," he said.

"You know," the man replied, "it would take you a decade to fill every pothole in this city." Bachor smiled. He wiped at the mud until an image shone through. The man stepped back and read: "'Pothole.' That's classic."

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