Kraftwerk, a.k.a. David Sanborn, a.k.a. Piston Slap Yo Mama

Editor’s Note: Please welcome TTAC commenter Piston Slap Yo Mama, or David Sanborn as his parents call him, above the fold. After a semi-casual trip to Florida’s Department of Motor Vehicles, Mr. Sanborn became Kraftwerk, and this is his inside story.

Choose one: a soul crushing morning at the DMV waiting to renew your driver’s license amid a sea of crying infants or a visit to the ham-fisted death dentist your insurance plan forced on you? Everyone rich or poor inevitably has to do these things, and unless you’re Charles Nelson Reilly, there’s no preferential treatment.

As my fiancée Jennifer and I had just moved to Florida, we had to visit the grey bureaucrats at the DMV within 30 days or risk the ire of the state apparatus.

Mundane Kraftwerk, Image: © 2016 David Sanborn

My better half went first. Ordinarily you get an embarrassing, scowling photo you’re legally obligated to carry for the next decade like a tiny Scarlet Letter. I challenged her to make the most of it as others have done. After some cosplay preparation, she went as her polar opposite: a platinum blonde, ’50s-era starlet in a cocktail dress with ruby-red lipstick. She nailed it. Nobody who’s seen her remarkable license fails to comment. This also meant she’d thrown down the gauntlet and it was my turn; I had to bring my A game. Little did I know I was about to be a Florida Man meme.

Who doesn’t love a good Florida Man meme? Endless prose has been written in honor of his creative stupidity a magnitude beyond the ‘hold my beer and watch this’ standard. A quick check for recent examples yields “Florida Man Arrested for Uttering the Words ‘Erect Penis’ at School Board Meeting” and “Florida Man Caught Trying to Smuggle Dead Alligator in Car” shows it’s not a meme in decline. A recent Florida transplant myself, I laugh it off when frenemies rag me about it — but society has always needed a group to lightheartedly defame, with French surrender monkey and Polack jokes as good examples.

Kraftwerk Shops for Records, Image: © 2016 David Sanborn

Despite this, it came as a complete surprise to see my face splashed across hallowed journalistic institutions under the headline “Florida Man Changes Name To Kraftwerk.” Reality set in while sitting with my morning cuppa joe, wiping sleep from my eyes while noting an absurd number of Faceballs Facebook notifications: I’d somehow become a Florida Man, too.

Here’s a sampling: legendary British music journal New Musical Express. The EDM friendly MixMag. Orlando’s own Weekly. Canada’s Exclaim. Something in regards to Magnetism. The best beats are usually Electronic Beats. Stoney and His Beats. Our favorite city where women stand under red lights and beckon you into questionable situations, Amsterdam. Deutschland’s Shortnews …

I’ve been a Kraftwerk super-fan since childhood. In the 70s, they beamed down from planet Germany and served up an electronic music genre not heard before. Kraftwerk were perhaps the least German musical group ever (despite the Sprockets cliche of “und now ve dance”) and shunned at home by their lederhosen-attired German comrades with a strong bias for oompah tuba music and David Hasselhoff. Despite this, Kraftwerk arguably became more influential than The Beatles and were associated with driving on the Autobahn.

They’re also a legendarily secretive band, a musical Thomas Pynchon that never grants interviews, doesn’t sign autographs backstage, doesn’t let the world know they’re mortals who put their pants on one leg at a time. It’s maddening. They want us to think they’d been plucked from the wreckage of a UFO and I’m not buying it. I wanted the world to see their mundane side — and there’s no place on planet Earth more mundane than the DMV.

I hatched a plan.

The woman at the DMV was remarkably accommodating for my license photo, ensuring the red shirt and tie would fully appear. I’d jettisoned my beard that morning, a companion of the past few years that had to go. Jennifer applied masking tape around my face and shot black hair dye onto my salt and pepper hair, a bit of pale makeup base and a touch of rouge on the lips. I was a good facsimile of The Man-Machine. Only a few people at the DMV openly stared. I bid them auf wiedersehen.

Kraftwerk's Subaru, Image: © 2016 David Sanborn

Kraftwerk spent the rest of the day in Tampa being mundane and human, shopping at Microgroove Records, eating lunch, making an unpublished homage to Frank Zappa, driving a truck, gassing a Subaru and feeding ducks before a solid eight hours of rest. I scanned and edited the license to obscure or confuse all identifying information and replaced my own real name with “KRAFTWERK” and uploaded everything to Flickr. The general reaction from my friends (most of whom are happy to listen to the radio) was that I was a “dork.” I promptly forgot about it. But the internet never forgets and loves to remix. I should not have been surprised that agent provocateurs would run with the name change angle. For the record, I didn’t change my name. I’m still the same smooth jazz, Tampa-based David Sanborn I’ve always been.

Kraftwerk Feeds the Ducks, Image: © 2016 David Sanborn

I’ll pass the DMV soul-sucking challenge along to you: make your photos noteworthy, live a little. You’re going to be stuck with it for a long, long time. Faith No More can explain the moral (if any) to this story with their evergreen I Started a Joke.

Also, if you’re dumb enough to ride motorcycles, you should consider being an organ donor, too.

[Images: © 2016 David Sanborn/The Truth About Cars]

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80 Comments on “I Am Kraftwerk: How One of TTAC’s Own Became a Florida Man Meme...”


  • avatar
    TonyJZX

    please tell me thats a fake address fake dob etc.

    goes with the fake name I guess?

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      second to last paragraph states he obscured all relevant information, so safe to assume the address is not real.

      This beats my going to school dressed as “that” famous WWI pilot before taking on the Red Baron on the school’s jungle gym! I had the requisite cap, goggles and scarf along with my grandfather’s cane. Way before the time of FB and camera phones. I’m not entirely sure what Schulz would have thought…:)

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      If only that were true. I once spent a long year in Winter Haven one month. The main attraction of the place is one of those Legoland theme parks. Lots of low-life, midwestern rednecks flock to the place in the winter (hence the name). IOW, it’s pretty much a hole.

      • 0 avatar
        Piston Slap Yo Mama

        WH isn’t so much a ‘hole’ as it is borderline adequate. Lots of transplanted New Jerseyites, rednecks, retirees and people sick of shoveling snow. Pro-tip: DON’T grow up there.

        Tampa’s around the corner and has a great scene for microbreweries, restaurants and Salvador Dali. The address on the license may or may not be representative of where we actually live, for many, many reasons. On this point I am taking the 5th.

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          ‘Borderline adequate’ is a good way to describe not only WH, but Polk County as a whole, which includes such thriving metropolis’ as Haines City (home of a half dozen redlight cameras on the only highway the city has jurisdiction over), Lakeland, and Lake Wales. Really, about the only reason I can think of to live in Polk County is because someone can’t afford to live in either Tampa or Orlando (either of which are about an equal distance away).

          In fact, Polk County’s biggest claim to fame is long-time Sheriff Grady Judd, someone who rivals that Arpaio guy from Maricopa County, AZ as one of the biggest a$$holes in the country’s law enforcement community. Judd is the guy who, when asked why his men pumped 68 bullets (out of over 100 fired) into a cornered, armed cop-killer a few years back, proudly replied, “Because they ran out of bullets”.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    All I can say is any CNR reference is welcomed. Always enjoyed watching ‘Chuck’ on The Tonight Show. Whenever a guest cancelled last minute, Johnny’s staff would call up CNR who lived nearby and was more than willing to show-up as a last minute replacement or stand-by.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Any Charles Nelson Reilly reference is a good reference. He was a larger-than-life man’s man and an utter riot when engaging in simple banter. That he was obviously gay in an era when that was verboten is especially noteworthy, but with a personality and wit as razor sharp as his I don’t anyone could survive criticizing him.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I am of two minds. I like the concept, but having government ID that significantly doesnt match your daily appearance could backfire.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      This was my general thought as well. Especially if you’re a minority.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        When I re-enter the U.S., Customs sometimes does quite the inspection between what’s on my green card and the human that’s sitting in the car. And I’m a white guy from Canada. Probably not a good idea for minorities to liven up their government issued ID pictures.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      It was less of a departure from my appearance than you’d think. My last license photo, being a decade old in comparison could easily have been someone else. Add to that a beard and the greying of age – I’m not surprised at the people who skeptically compared my ID against the IRL me.

      The downside to this exposure is now I can’t tell certain TTAC commenters to kiss my black ass anymore, or at least not with as much plausible deniability.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      In BC they have gone to black and white photos. You can’t wear eye glasses and you aren’t allowed to smile. Apparently smiles confuses the terrorist facial recognition software. I look like I should be pressing licence plates at some penitentiary.

  • avatar
    Kenmore

    Dude only got one shirt or twelve identical ones?

    Ajla, I know you live in FL so you must have some natural immunity.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I understood almost nothing in this story, but I’m just happy to have my license renewed every four years to maintain the privilege of driving. Having lost that privilege for a month once (long story), I appreciate it that much more.

    • 0 avatar
      NickS

      > (long story)

      There is no limit on comment size ;)

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I live in Pennsylvania, which has a points system for moving violations.

        Once upon a time, I acquired 7 points within the span of 12 months, and paid the tickets promptly.

        Concurrent with this lawbreaking activity, I moved to the next town, with a lot more on my mind than driving tickets. Pennsylvania requires you to notify them of any address changes within 30 days, but I was unaware of this, and it certainly wasn’t a priority, so I never changed my address for a couple years. [License renewals here are every 4 years.]

        Three points evaporate per ‘clean’ year, but this had not occurred. A written test is required to be passed to restore driving privileges, and then 2 points are erased.

        Due to the delays of paperwork, the state sent the TEST REQUIRED notice to my old address, and I never received it since mail forwarding had long expired. Therefore, the state suspended my license – and I never knew it.

        In addition to this, my license expired by a few months because I never received a notice to renew it.

        Oddly, this came to light as the result of a traffic accident. I rear-ended another car, and the police officer on the scene dutifully took my information. In a real-life Jedi Mind Trick, he never noted the expired license, and never noticed that my license was suspended.

        It was only after the accident – at home – that I looked at my license and realized it was expired. Concerned, I called the state with interest in renewing my license (pre-internet, ~1992), and they informed me that my license was suspended in addition to being expired. I went from concerned to horrified.

        So I called my attorney friend. After some checking, he advised me to show up at a test center a month hence, and to definitely pass the written test. In the meantime, he also strongly cautioned me to not drive during that month. As a result, my wife ferried me to work, etc, until I got my license back.

        As a result, I appreciate my license much more than I used to. I really feel for people who lose their license for DUI or age or health reasons. Driving really is a privilege.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    So Florida licenses don’t have your weight listed on them like Ohio ones do, interesting.

    I also don’t get the masking tape part, as I don’t see any masking tape.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      The hair dye was sprayed on, the masking tape encouraged it to only adhere to my hair as nobody wants painted ears or forehead. That will also be my last dalliance with any kind of hair dye.
      A man should wear his grey with pride.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I’d wear grey hair with pride…. sadly mine is abandoning ship all together!

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Oh, now I see.

        @Dave, again I find myself saying to you Don’t Stop Believin!

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          No worries Corey, I’m basically a slightly more cuddly Jason Statham.

          Also, I’m going to look at this later.

          http://www.kijiji.ca/v-view-details.html?requestSource=b&adId=1172686898

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Shoot, pay in cash mate. And if you wanna be like him you gotta get an A8L.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            1500 with a 3.21 and a crew cab. No towing with that one. Might be nice as long as the engine doesn’t blow up.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Nah, those specs are wrong. I’ve been looking at the dealer listings on kijiji, they ALL say 3.21 rear, and 16.5/11.3 mileage, regardless of engine, trim, etc.

            This one has the tow package and air suspension, you can see it in the dash picture. Trailer brake controller is present and they dont offer it if the truck isnt set up for it.

            Goes back to Bark’s article on dealer advertising. This appears to be a bells and whistles diesel Laramie with air and tow, and yet if you look at the specs, it says its gas!

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Who put those chrome accents on the tail lights? FCA or aftermarket? Terrible.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Hideous chrome tail light surrounds as standard on Laramie and up!

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            Probably some minimum-wage intern gang-loading the listings and just not caring (or even having the info).

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Adam, I’m pretty sure they come on the Laramie by default. The only reason I’d look at a Laramie is the 3.0, I generally prefer the less blingy sport trim.

            I can’t imagine paying the $4700 premium on a new diesel, but this one has 12000 kms and is down 20k off the purchase price. Works for me.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Yeah, the price is definitely more palatable than new. Hopefully this diesel powered RAM will be more reliable than your Verano.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I’d hope it to be more reliable. Having a warranty is great, but constantly hanging around dealerships is no fun.

            And lets be clear here, this is a real long shot. I’m likely driving the Verano for the time to come.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You sure you want black, by the way? Most people I hear talk about their black cars say “I’ll never again own a black car.”

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            I’d be ok with black. The Alero was black. I say, I’d have a black car again so long as it is metallic black.

            And again, this is a long shot. I’m excited to go look at it though.

          • 0 avatar
            Adam Tonge

            Corey-

            Our black MkT seems to get dirty in the garage. Next one will be pearl white if I can help it.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Yes yes, always a fan of pearl white. Mayhaps my LS will end up in that color. Or navy.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Black is the best color for a car.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            He lives in Canada. He needs all the insolation he can get.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        It’s not gray, it’s glitter highlights. Or at least that’s my thought on it.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Here in Texas, long wait times used to be the norm, until the DMV set up drivers license megacenters around the state to handle new licenses and renewals, usually occupying abandoned grocery stores. You can set up appointment times online, then show up close to your appointed time. They’ll even send text messages keeping you informed of your time, and if it’s moved up or out, with the ability to push it out 5 or 10 minutes by replying. The last time I had to renew I was in and out in less than 10 minutes.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Indiana had a similar BMV revitalization a few years back, becoming a production line type of operation. You’re routed via the first person you talk to, and move to different people to file you through the process. Before then, every employee did every task, and you stuck with the same person until you were ready to leave. Wait times went down from 35 minutes to two minutes.

      Ohio has tried to do this as well, but fall down with their separate license branch and clerk of courts offices (which are usually not in the same location). It requires more than one line, in two separate offices. The employees of each don’t like each other, and when I was there openly criticized the other offices work. It’s a mess.

      Ohio is a very cheap place to register a car though, and Indiana is quite expensive.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        Indiana is only expensive for newer model years. It’s a sliding scale based on MSRP when new and currrent vehicle age. 10 yrs and up is cheap which partially explains why 3 of my 4 vehicles are in that group.

        I’ve always thought it odd that a state heavily dependent on vehicles and vehicle component manufacturing put a negative incentive on newer vehicles.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Well when I said expensive, my 10+ year old cars in high school and college in Indiana were about 3x as expensive to register as my 5 year old car in Ohio, which has a flat rate of “car,” and pays no mind to value.

        • 0 avatar
          Piston Slap Yo Mama

          Florida zings you for a $250 “impact” fee on any car plated in the state for the first time. It’s waived if you’re transferring a plate or something something bureaucracy. All I know is paying that fee for the fleet we brought in really sucked. That was the other reason for my DMV visit, receiving a thorough fleecing.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I’m still trying to wrap my head around the longer-than-four-year license term!

            And as stated, Ohio’s relatively cheap in comparison to other states. Just write a check every two or three years versus paying personal-property tax or some other scheme to separate you from your money. (That “first-timer, welcome to God’s waiting room” fee is especially stupid!)

        • 0 avatar
          rudiger

          I thought exactly the same thing about Michigan. It is one of only three states (California and Virginia being the other two) that charges sales tax on the full price of a new vehicle, regardless of whether there is a trade-in or not. The other 47 states charge sales tax only on the difference, the theory being the purchaser has already paid sales tax on the trade-in vehicle.

          Since new car sales are such a huge part of Michigan’s economy, I could never figure out the logic of the state charging sales tax ‘twice’ on a trade-in. Seems like it would go a long way to dampening new car sales.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I would also like it if there were separate BMV/DMV offices for people who showered within the past 24 hours, and were ready with their proper paperwork and payment. Can this be a thing?

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        Why shower or get dressed, when you can renew your license online from the comfort of your bed or toilet?

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          It’s disgusting. You’re going to be photographed on this day, so maybe wash the grease out of your hair and make sure your boobs aren’t under your arms via a bra.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          Every so many years FL requires you to actually show up, pass an eye test and get your picture taken. Plus as mentioned he just moved to the state, which requires an in-person visit.

          Another DMV trick to avoid Patty and Selma is to apply at one of the smaller cities. For example my parents live in a town of less then 2,000 people, so their DMV is by appointment only since the guy actually has to show up, unlock the door and crank up the computer. Line? There is no such thing when you are literally the only person there.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            They did a funny bit on Broad City about the NY DMV via appointment versus going in with the gen pop in the line. (S3E05)

  • avatar
    Pch101

    You could have been on the album cover of Trans-Europe Express. Which is a bit disturbing, frankly.

    http://www.sputnikmusic.com/images/albums/2631.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Nice! Trans-Europe Express’ cover art was Kraftwerk’s middle finger at the mid-70’s band cliche of long hair, sideburns and hippie clothes. It was an expert poke in the eye to the whole rock music establishment at that time, though today when viewed out of context it’s not as meaningful.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    Can I ask what prompted your migration? At our age (you and I are FIVE days apart, which seems like it should mean something statistically, but Freakonomics will tell me probably doesn’t), most of our peers have settled in from the last of the early career transfers until they make retirement moves in their sixties. I do have one classmate who just took off for England. Maybe he knows something?

    Anyway, I just spent a fantastic week in Panama City, and am now absent-mindedly looking for jobs and possible stunts that might qualify me as FLORIDA MAN-worthy.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Like many of the B&B who weren’t hatched from an egg, I have a parental unit I love very much who now needs my patronage. Moving her away from her long established home was not in the cards, so we moved closer to her. This is the burden of the caring son or daughter, especially when they have siblings who pretend the parent doesn’t exist.

      Most of my peers are heavily invested in children and careers, and I’m not knocking those vocations, but it certainly puts a damper on variety. People get irate when you question, or even appear to question those major life choices, esp. offspring, so I avoid that topic at any cost. I’ve worn the hats of journalist, tech writer, I.T. guy, teacher in Japan, founder of a startup and more. It’s been fun, not collecting moss. I hope to keep doing it.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    He shoulda changed it to “Ralf und Florian”, to be hardcore.

  • avatar
    ldl20

    Well done! Though as an avid cyclist, my favorite Kraftwerk album (and cover) is Tour De France–not sure you could have done much there, though.

    And, by the way, the guys from the Tru TV show, Impractical Jokers, did this to their friend (Murr). They completely shaved all the hair off his head (including his eyebrows), save for a small halo around his bald spot—it was disturbing to say the least!

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      That entire show is disturbing. The alternate title should be “[h]ow can four New York poster-children for male pattern baldness go out of their way (or at least out of their parents’ basements) to embarrass the hell out of each other?”

      To each their own, but between that and a test pattern, the latter has it in spades!

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Wow, I was wondering what had happened to Chip Davis.

  • avatar
    Piston Slap Yo Mama

    “Society has always needed a group to lightheartedly defame, with French surrender monkey and Polack jokes as good examples.”

    My favorite French joke:

    Q. Why are so many French boulevards lined with trees?
    A. Because ze Germans like to march in shade.

  • avatar
    turf3

    So, you still playing that Dukoff D7, or have you moved on? I used one on tenor for years but these days pretty much use a Meyer #8 for everything.

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Q: What’s the difference between an alto saxophone and a trampoline?
      A: You take off your shoes to jump on the trampoline.

      I’ve moved on. Totally prefer late night talk show hosting.

  • avatar

    I am so excited to read this piece, I’ve always wondered what PSYM looks like.

    That said, neither of us could ever be Erik Estrada. Which is kinda sad.

  • avatar
    NickS

    Nice to meet the man behind the actor-with-towel so to speak.

    cool choice of music. I used to spin those records. Now life gets in the way. Being a parent can cramp your style/hobbies, etc. Not to dissuade anyone from it, but it does require a certain mindset and sacrifices which most adults with professional commitments are not accustomed to making.

    What your fiancee did sounds hilarious.

    And seriously, no DL holder pics I have seen (even the pastafarians) are as weird as some of the DMV employees I had to speak with the few times I had to go in. I still remember the middle-aged man with really bizarre dyed eyebrows, and the young-looking mother whose daughter (all of 18-yo?) worked in the next desk (!), and felt the need to share so many weird details about them.

  • avatar

    In Michigan, you can decide whatever signature you want to put on your driver’s license. In a sense, you’re allowed to “make your mark”, whatever you want it to nr. My son signed his in Hebrew. I don’t know what the rules are in Florida, but if David wanted to sign his driver’s license with “Kraftwerk”, he could probably do it here.

  • avatar

    For what it’s worth, Frank Zappa rued allowing that photograph to be taken. The most serious composer that the rock era has produced and he’s better known for sitting on the can.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Saw Frank when he was in orchestra mode. I was 19 and about as musically diverse as most at that age. I didn’t understand any of it. But in true Bill Graham mix everything, Quicksilver ended the night on a four hour tour. Those shows at Winterland and the Fillmore back then were never surpassed.

  • avatar
    VoGo

    I’m impressed with the amount of time some TTAC’ers have on their hands.


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