the art of the story
„Sex, Drugs and
Rock 'n' Roll“
the story of
“When I go to the bathroom and someone has left the light on, I automatically think, ‘Ey, Jörg!'” says Thomas “Golem” Golemiewski, smiling dimly at the fact that he still accuses his old friend of such sloppiness. After all, it couldn’t have been Jörg Wettstädt. Because the longtime Hinz&Künztler has passed away.
Outside, in front of the entrance to the Hinz&Kunzt house, where he last lived in a shared apartment, he collapsed and died. Sitting on the floor, leaning against the wall of the house, supported and in the arms of Marcel Stein. Even before the emergency doctor arrived, he stopped breathing, says the sales colleague who had worked with Jörg for a long time and happened to be on the scene.
Since the early 2000s, Jörg has been a “Hinz&Künzter with heart and soul,” says social worker Isabel Kohler. He started at the street magazine as a janitor and driver, and later the trained precision mechanic joined the Hinz&Kunzt sales team. Most recently, he sold the street magazine at his regular place at Rewe near the Berne subway station. His health was already going steadily downhill by then, the heavy alcohol consumption left clear traces. “He consciously chose this life,” says Isabel Kohler. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll – that was his motto in life.
“It’s really strange that he’s gone,” says Golem, who lived with Jörg for years, most recently in the shared flat in the Hinz&Kunzt building. They met in the early 1990s. At that time, Golem was still running his Croque store “Crock ‘n’ Roll”. Jörg, who lived nearby, regularly stopped by after his karate training and drank his after-sports beer. “Jörg always liked to have a drink,” Golem says, “and we had fun parties.” But back then, he says, Jörg was still in top shape, during his youth he even competed in tournaments. Once, Golem dared to go along to the training. “I barely made it through the warm-up,” he recalls, laughing. That’s why Golem wasn’t a bit surprised when Jörg co-founded a Hinz&Kunzt soccer team in 2006 and even acted as coach. His coaching was amicable and humorous: “Mix concrete at the back and God help at the front,” was the plan with which the “KunztKickers” took third place at the German Street Soccer Championships just one year later and played in the opening program of the “Salzbrenner Cup” indoor tournament.
Golem was not part of the soccer team. But he shared Jörg’s second passion: music. Even as a child, Jörg was interested in music, and as a schoolboy he even built himself a guitar. He met regularly with Golem to jam. He was good on the bass and already had some experience with bands. When Golem finally lost first his croque store and then his apartment because of alcohol and drug problems, Jörg brought his buddy to Hinz&Kunzt. The idea: Why not form a band with other colleagues and salespeople? “Restakzent” was born. In 2009, the rock band even performed at “Kick it like Beatles,” a promotional event for up-and-coming talent. Days before the gig, Jörg was so excited that he suddenly forgot all the lyrics: “I wanted to go through our songs in my head – but there was nothing left. Not a single verse,” he recounted at the time.
At the time, Jörg was living in a small house in Berne. The owners, who lived right next door, had approached Hinz&Kunzt with the offer to rent their little house to Hinz&Künztler at a reasonable price. “The world’s best landlords,” raved Jörg, who first lived in the cottage with his brother, then together with Golem until November 2020. The basement was unceremoniously converted into a rehearsal room. “Jörg was always there,” says Golem, even when he was already in poor health. He used a walker and had to take heart medication. “How many times I’ve called the ambulance in Berne!” says Golem, shaking his head. “Jörg just collapsed over and over again. From one moment to the next. Maybe because he hadn’t taken his pills. Or because he didn’t leave out the Jägermeister with the pills.”
It was also alcohol that finally cost Jörg his job in Hinz&Kunzt sales. More and more often, he suffered serious mishaps that left the team with no choice in the end. “He really got a lot of chances from Hinz&Kunzt,” Golem recalls. “We also talked a lot about alcohol. I’m an alcoholic myself, after all. But that’s how Jörg was: withdrawal and therapy were not for him. And if Jörg didn’t want to, well, that’s just the way it was.”
That’s how social worker Isabel Kohler sees it: “If someone doesn’t want to change something on their own initiative, you do not stand a chance. You have to accept that.” In the end, the employment relationship was terminated without resentment. A loss, because “the salespeople were really important to Jörg,” recalls Isabel Kohler. “He always saw eye-to-eye with them, gave them tips, took care of them and got something going for them.” Now Jörg, who would have had no chance of getting another job due to the serious illness of addiction, started as a Hinz&Kunzt salesman. Quite naturally.
“At least Jörg wasn’t alone when he died,” says sales colleague Marcel Stein. At the memorial service, Golem didn’t miss the opportunity to play a farewell song for his old friend. He also left a Jägermeister for Jörg. He shouldn’t be short of anything up there. As with all deceased Hinz&Künztler:innen, a plaque on the Hinz&Kunzt tree in the Öjendorf cemetery now commemorates the friend and colleague. For Marcel Stein, he is still there anyway: “As long as you think of a person, that’s how long they live.
More about Jörg:
Text: Annette Woywode
Foto: Mauricio Bustamante