Here’s a great twist on the classic snowman theme: a bloody, carnivorous Frosty caught in the act of devouring a raccoon. It’s been an unusually cold and snowy winter in Cincinnati so it’s good to see that someone is making the most of it. I was driving my daughter home from a friend’s house when we saw it. Of course, I had to go back and get a picture, which I posted to my Instagram and Twitter feeds. When David asked about posting it to Boing Boing, I was happy but curiously apprehensive. Even though this guy sits in plain view of a busy intersection, I had walked right up to him to make the picture and now I was beginning to feel like I should have asked permission because I had ventured onto private property.
When I worked at a newspaper, we had clear rules for when you needed permission to publish a photo. If the subject of the photo was at public event (baseball game), or in a public place (park) or visible from a public place (street), it was understood that there was no expectation of privacy. An obvious exception would be a photo taken through the window of a private home even if taken from a public street. If you entered private property to make a picture, you got permission.
I find it interesting that I hadn’t thought about these issues with regard to social media. I haven’t shot professionally for a long time but I post regularly to Instagram and share my pictures on Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. I’m under no illusion that those sites are private but for whatever reason, they feel more personal. Boing Boing, on the other hand, feels like having your picture on Page 1 of the morning paper. Maybe that’s why I felt the need to go back and ask permission.
I’m glad I did because the creator of this fearsome snow monster is a pretty cool guy. It was dark and very cold when I approached the door and rang the bell. Almost immediately, I was met by a tall man with a full beard. Backlit by the light from his kitchen, he cast an imposing shadow onto the small porch where I stood. As I began speak, he invited me inside. We introduced ourselves and I explained why I was there.
Despite his somewhat intimidating appearance, Bart Motz is a friendly, soft-spoken guy who seemed more amused than anything when I told him my friend in San Francisco wanted to publish a picture of his snowman on a blog. As it turns out, I was the second unexpected visitor with questions about his snowman. The SPCA had paid him a visit earlier in the day after a passing motorist called them complaining that a real raccoon was being tortured and “still moving.” The raccoon is a hat and the blood is red paint.
The Motz’s - Bart, his wife Angie, 3 sons and a daughter - enjoy creating snow sculptures when the weather obliges. Their last creation was an octopus. Attempts to find a photo of the octopus were unsuccessful. In warmer months, Bart and his kids serve ice cream out of an old Mr. Softie truck. Though Bart hasn't performed for a while, he’s a bluegrass guitar player. Some of his friends are trying to coax him back into a band. The family also makes their own maple syrup and raises chickens for eggs. As I was leaving, they gave me a dozen fresh eggs which my family will enjoy in the morning.
John Curley is the bass player in The Afghan Whigs and Fists of Love. He's also the proprietor of Ultrasuede Studio, a recording studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can follow John on Twitter (@theotherjc513), Instagram (@john_curley), and Flickr (theotherjc513).