1988 - 1990 - Formentera Guitars
A real friendship had developed between Thomas Stratmann, who comes from East Frisia, and I during his Rockinger employment. Thomas - a trained carpenter and vocational school teacher - had the idea to offer guitar building courses as part of our custom program. A kind of tent camp on Amrum or another East Frisian island, together with a rented workshop. Because of my love for Formentera I immediately said: "We'll do that on my favourite island. Just imagine a guitar building course in the Balearic Islands on Formentera! The best thing you can treat yourself to!" Yes, we agreed and in autumn 1987 we booked flights to explore and check out this island unknown to him and Züli. Spontaneous enthusiasm and the decision was made right then and there!
Nowadays you don't necessarily have to fly to this island anymore, but back then it was a real blast. A bunch of young, individualistic people, hippies, relaxed beach bars with cool music, live music in various places at night, and the sea with quasi Caribbean beaches. All in all a real paradise, relatively easy to reach from Ibiza by ferry.
In April, 1988 I flew there again to find a suitable location, which turned out to be quite a hassle. (You can read all details in my book "Angst & Schrecken auf Formentera"). Anyway, I actually found a suitable workshop and we cheekily advertised our plans in the next Rockinger catalogue as an already existing, fascinating truth. And wouldn’t you believe it, within a few days we had the first courses fully booked, with the clients’ deposit in our account.At that time, however, the "workshop" was still the beverage warehouse of a Toni Xeroni - see here:
Quote from my book: Jesus, would it all go smoothly? All sorts of competent people had told me that everything is particularly difficult in Spain: What? Balearic Islands? "Banana Republic!" In fact, some people had simply declared us crazy. But in the end these people were just jealous. A guitar building school in the Mediterranean sun - Is there better?...
Everything went super smooth. Thomas turned out to be an absolutely professional teacher, and the students left our island euphoric. Everyone was talking about us.
1989 Formentera Guitars at the Frankfurt Fair
Actually, it was out of our league but we just said, "Let's do it." We modeled our comparatively small booth after a beach kiosk, which you can find a lot of in Formentera. We even had sand on the floor. We also had wooden deck chairs, a palm tree, a map of the island and also some music. We even went several times before to the tanning studio in order to radiate at least some southern flair ourselves. In the morning the "normal" exhibitors arrived punctually at 9 am, most of them dressed in suits and ties. We arrived at half past nine at the earliest and exchanged our street clothes for thin summer shirts and light shoes (especially Birkenstock).
We were a small sensation in the otherwise rather matter-of-fact Frankfurt trade show scene. Several times Bill Lawrence came along and gave a skillful guitar performance with his cowboy hat. The man could play really well and people crowded our beach stand.
The 1980s were already rocking times on this island, with wine, women and song! Beach and nightlife in a relaxed Spanish way, with pubs like the Fonda Pepe, the Pirata Bus, the Anselmo Kiosko. On top of that there are deserted coastlines and lots of festivities. We were of course the kings of it all with our system and Honda power unit).
Today none of this exists any more. The island has become Italian. Formentera became populated by a lot of nouveau riche people from Düsseldorf. In my second book, I have a freak shoot a group of noisy Düsseldorfers from a hotel balcony - seis muertos! On islands you can also quickly get fed up.
This went so far with me that in one class, when we were playing at the Blue Bar at night, I punched a student twice in the mouth because he kept grabbing my newly found flame while we were sitting at the bar playing music. I dragged him onto the terrace and hit him until two people held me from behind. And this tall, corpulent guy, who had only flinched slightly from my punches, told me, "If you do that again, you'll get one back. Eieiei, he used to be an amateur heavyweight boxer, and I could have really caught something!
Fonda Pepe: just around the corner
When I had to serve as a teacher, I soon proved to be unsuitable. Patience is not exactly my strong suit. In the courses there were always one or two participants who got on my nerves. I then took over more of the organizational tasks and otherwise stayed in the background. However, I did prove I was actually able to conduct a course completely on my own as a teacher.
The photographer Dirk E.
When it came to "photos" I came across an old musician colleague, Dirk E., by chance. A really good composer, a photographer by profession, with a great job in the Hanover Sprengel museum: photographing works of art for cataloguing all day long. He had a good salary, free working hours and he lived in a huge area of studios and other rooms with developing machines and other professional equipment. I went there more often with all kinds of guitars and parts to have all the parts photographed for our catalogues. Everything was great. Dirk had several Hasselblad cameras with huge negative formats and all the lighting and equipment he could wish for. What was striking, however, were the many tables in the various rooms, which apparently served only one purpose. Namely as a place to put empty beer bottles. And with time there were more and more. As a "merchant" I started to think about how much one could have earned with the deposits from the empty bottles. The more bottles were added to the collection, the worse the photos became: blurred, dusty, scratched, whatever. In the end the tables were a real forest of empty beer bottles and Dirk seemed more and more absent. One day I appeared at the doorman to register for another visit to the house photographer and got the negative answer: "Mr. E. doesn't work for us anymore."
That was in late 1988, just as we were about to make a new flyer for the next Formentera Guitars season. I tracked Dirk down at his home and he agreed to take the desired photos for us at home, no problem. We drove everything there and two days later we came back. Dirk seemed very desolate, and the photo results were so devastating that even the idea of complaining about anything seemed completely out of the question. It was an incredible fiasco. We packed up our guitars and just got out of that place.
We left in an old, green VW bus and unfortunately had an accident just past Lyon in the early morning: I fell asleep at the wheel. A loud bang, then a scraping noise and the windshield turned 90 degrees. In the end we slid against the crash barrier and climbed out of the bus as fast as we could through the windshield, we could smell gasoline. The bus was now scrap, but nothing else bad happened. A few scratches and our inventory (wood, tools and parts) had got off undamaged. I felt very guilty about my failure and almost threw myself in front of the next truck. Shortly afterwards the gendarmerie came and took everything and us with them to the next village.
We settled down in a hotel and discussed what to do. We decided to carry on with a rented van and rent another one in Spain after returning the French one. No sooner said than done: first we drove with the rented van to the junkyard, where our VW bus had found its last resting place, to reload all our stuff. We unscrewed the number plates off of our wreck and continued south.
At a highway rest stop we discovered a German camper with several surfboards on the roof and talked to the driver. Wolfgang was on his way to Ibiza for windsurfing. We described our situation to him and asked him if he would take us with him and that of course that we would pay him for the crossing if he would load our stuff into his camper and bring everything to "our island". Yes, the man agreed. We repacked everything, Thomas Stratmann returned the rental van and I drove with Wolfgang from Denia to Ibiza and then on to Formentera.
In the end everything went well. Thomas soon followed by train and ferry. Once I arrived on Formentera, I decided to start my second life anew. Well, at least a little bit. First of all, I completely stopped my previously considerable consumption of Fernet Branca. And secondly, I was now tired of my Karl Lagerfeld ponytail hairstyle. Anyway, I never liked to identify with all those old Formentera hippies. Conclusion: Change your appearance! Check it out here:
All in all, fate had obviously turned a blind eye to my appearance. But it got even better: At our local friend Dirk "Leon"’s place up in remote Mola, we discovered a VW bus, year of construction similar to ours. It was painted over with green paint, Dirk (car freak) changed - however he did it - the chassis number, then screwed the old number plates of the scrap bus onto this "new" one and everything was as if nothing had happened. We were in possession of a VW bus again (purchase price 400 Marks), with which we could take our guitar building students to the beach.
Soon there were personal problems with Zueli’s and my family, so that after three years the whole thing became unbearable for me. Especially since our Rockinger company had suffered a lot from this island gig. The bosses were out of the building and things didn’t go so well.
Well, Züli and I sold our shares in 1990 to a former course participant who continued to run the guitar building school together with Thomas Stratmann. Ten years later, Thomas also threw in the towel and is now taking courses in Hannover. But Formentera Guitars still exists today. The school even appears in all sorts of travel guides, because Formentera has nothing else to offer in "important" places except a few lighthouses and churches.
Here is a collection of photos of all the people I met there in the 80s and 90s. A lot of really good guys, but there are also a few idiots ... And about 95% of them you won't see again on this island today. Either they're not coming back, they've moved away, or they've just passed away.
Today this island is fully commercialized and dominated by fancy Italian people. Nothing against Italians, but in the parterres of the houses of the few pueblos you can only find boutiques and gift shops today. And these Italians keep to themselves - like the Germans from Düsseldorf on this once so enchanting island. Social contact is practically impossible!
Here's another little digression from 2006 that I put on paper back then regarding decadence and decline:
SUPPLY & DEMAND?
I had thought that Formentera would be out pretty soon. What the German and Italian tour operators have prepared with their package deals for proles and idiots of all kinds, has been magnificently exaggerated in perfidy by the islanders who are doing business. Everyone - whether islanders or foreigners - just wants to make money, regardless of losses. Every street in every village is closed to traffic and tiled, every 20 meters a fenced tree or even a palm tree, every 5 meters a street lamp, ridiculous shit. Almost all the really good beach kiosks have disappeared over the last two years, and most of the "exciting people" have left for the mainland or elsewhere. Primitive North Rhine-Westphalian pensioners occupy rather Spanish places, dull Franks dominate important beach areas and offer pseudo-modern cuisine badly done and at completely inflated prices. Insular Spaniards would be asked to put a stop to this, but they themselves are too dull and stupid and tasteless. When a German opens a business on Formentera, it's beer gardens, semi-seedy boutiques, hamburger bars or gift stores with Asian import items. As soon as the young Spaniard gets his act together, there are tattoo and piercing studios. The Italian, of course, comes up with pizzerias, real estate agencies, Internet cafes. Ultimately, a total disaster. One is happy about the last Spanish Ferreterias with their paella pans and excellent Arcos knives.
In addition, the super disaster awaits in San Ferran - or not. In front of the wall of the fonda - on which in the last three years no philosophers sat, but rather dull dimwits - new buildings are being built. The beautiful rubble square with its view above is gone.
Nothing can be stopped, most of Formentera's real qualities (live music of all places, open air bars, Anselmo Kiosko, Pirata Bus under Spanish occupation) already perished 15 years ago, forget it! The beaches are still beautiful. But you share them with retirees, dull families and upset puritan Italians.
San Fernando or now Sant Ferran, that ugly but lovable and ultimately authentic village that for more than 3 decades provided a place of existence for dropouts, hippies and other weirdos, is in the process of degenerating into a stuffy, run-of-the-mill village that is perfectly suited to its original facelessness that has increased over the decades. Bob Baldon playground, well.... sounds nice but more like an excuse for the fact that the lending library just isn't there anymore.
Hippies, freaks, intellectuals have come to Formentera since the mid-sixties. In the Fonda Pepe they seemed to have found a forum for spreading their ideas, the landlord, Pepe, repaired people's bicycles, joined in the discussions and got a kick out of the new things that were coming to the island, at some point also his son Julian. Hundreds of people sat there in and around the Fonda. While collecting glasses, people settled down, talked to the people, communication pure, the immigrants spoke reasonable Spanish, English anyway, Julian spoke reasonable English and of course German, like many other locals on the island. In addition, there were mainland Spaniards like Pascual, who opened the Pirate Bus, a beach kiosk from a small coach with windows out, where you could take a good drink on the beach before or after swimming in the super clear, 24 ° warm Mediterranean water and listen to great music, Stones, Dylan, King Crimson, Doors, whatever ...
And everyone wanted to fuck, male and female ... And that was possible, was practically the program. Schoppie made notches in the headboard of his bed in his Finka, which he had already bought in 1968 from a farmer for the cheapest money and paid off over three years by the income for his arts and crafts objects. And what can be more beautiful than a large forum of like-minded people who also get into bed with each other? It was not as if one fell for macho rippers, everything was desired as it happened, positive and equally weighted and poled between man and woman.
The horny paradise! Rudie Duschke, Langhans, Bommie Baumann and Uschi Obermeier had already propagated this, but possibly even in India they had not lived it out as loosely as the freaks here on the simple Balearic shore without any real culture shock. The Spaniards were already different, no more world rulers, the bullfight indulging also only, in order to savor the death proximity over good going out clothes and the price of the ticket for the arena place, Franko-gebeutelt, discreet Einreicher of bribe money, in addition, easy victims for torture and other tortures.
But people, that was a long time ago! Past, forgotten. Even I did not get to know anything about it. My first stay in 1983 was 15 years too late to catch Spain after Franco and this super small island still in its original bloom, if there ever may have been. Although, there are records, even books with stories and short stories, in which a bunch of migrants felt super comfortable under the circumstances here. But the Spaniards have experienced bad things: torture of themselves, torture of family members and other people close to them. Something like that makes a bad impression, psychotizes, narcotizes, can rob all real life force. In addition, there is the stupid Catholic faith, which is more present in this country than anywhere else in Europe. Although, stop! One must limit this! On the mainland there are already new. fresh forces, creativity, even remarkable design, film, literature, fashion and so on.
Where does tourism come from? How does it happen that people go on vacation, spending their money? Ultimately, only through offers and - let's drop the word "demand"! - by vacant money, money that is lying on people's pockets and can be spent. Oh miracle of the national economy! Although, in this case that vacant money is spent not at all here in our to be loved homeland and is returned to the financial flow, but in that distant Spain to all those tradesmen - after all nowadays in our own currency, the EURO! Ok!
Or example Majorca: an objectively seen scenically beautiful, climatically in the European area extremely favored, Toscana-similar habitat, was used by German cheap tour operators like Neckermann in the 60s until the late 80s, so over 3! Decades! as perfect fast destination for perfect vacation of low earners marketed, of the at that time already existing more fastidious middle long-distance travelers as "cleaning woman island" reviled. A not worthy French fries island, in particular also English influenced by any amount of dubious Asian restaurants and worst junk gastronomies run by Englishmen, Irishmen or Scotsmen. Fish & chips and worse.
One could assume that these 60s freaks did not only come to the Balearic Islands because everything was particularly cheap. Although, something must have gotten around in insider circles. Living for free, lying in the sun all day, paradise, if you were lucky, small, rented Finka domicile from the farmer, 5 tomato plants and 10 potatoes to self-sufficiency. The eggs were bought from the farmer, as well as the bread. But be careful with the local girls! They seemed already spoken for, at least, to the local boys - at least if the parents had their way. But these Franco-ridden wimps were not as tough as southern Italian or even Albanian families, where within a very short time the avenger was sent out with a long bowie knife to wipe out the family disgrace and ultimately bury killed foreigners somewhere. The Spaniard - and be it only the Balearic Pajes - is much, much more tolerant, even appears in a certain way more tolerant. Although here tolerance rather springs from specific, politically suffered feelings of fear. Once foreign guards have slowly driven pointed, long, thin sewing needles into one's toe bones for the purpose of obtaining information, one thinks differently about tolerance, integrity and other high human values.
Especially here with the young generation all kinds of problems, which of course - viewed historically - plausibly arise. Many a Pajes girl got off the good path by flirting with a migrant. And the migrants had no real scruples. Nobody knew that beforehand. No one could adjust to it. Those who made the long, uncertain way down here had other ideals, for sure! For heavens sake! Or these freaks were just cheeky enough. Cheeky enough to say goodbye to home forever, cheeky enough to stand by the highway with their thumbs wagging, happy enough to get a ride from ultimately like-minded, privileged, semi-capitalist VW bus owners.
Okay, maybe they were all lazybones, soldiers of fortune, dubious subjects, even sunny young dropouts bent on freeloading and begging, who were simply striving to realize optimal idleness. And what is to be said against it? Salvation certainly does not lie in work, in the job, in showing up at the workplace every morning to achieve highly ambitious goals under the most intense pressure.
Shitty conditions in the north of Germany, shitty conditions all over the USA. So you look for other places, and everyone who would go there in the same way now, would be so happy, if he could discover today, 2006, such an island like Ibiza or even Formentera, untouched, virgin. But: Gone, dear friends! What do you think? Where is the happiness today? Capverden? Is that so? Much too hot! Way too wet! Nothing going on. Or do we fly to Asia? Sex tourism or at least locals who look at you super nice all the time, totally sympathetic, but don't really understand anything. Or: Fuck my sister? Possibly even "my daughter". "My son"? Oh shit! "Sister makes super good!" Is "sister still, purely morally? - even old enough that no fornication?!"
For many wankers a good thing. But me? Us? We morally strengthened, which we would also like to fuck horny and violently, but then also after all with like-minded people! Not at all with addicts, or even in the whorehouse. No way! We are still man's enough to grab ourselves a suitable, greedy object. We know our way around! Even from the shape of the face we can deduce the shape of the backside, decades of routine! Even the other way around, from the symmetry and from the optical intensity of the bulge of the ass cheeks of that woman we can conclude on her face. Even on that mouth of that woman not seen before, whose voluptuous lips enclose our John sucking and will continue sucking, smacking licking and sucking. Yes! Only willing, self-proclaimed "dirty fuck-sluts, which we hook in mutual agreement with "Einschnapp" handcuffs bought in the toy department of Kaufhof from chromed plastic to the bed-head end firmly, lever out the Rossmann Vaseline can from the little box in the bedside cabinet, twist off the flat lid and abuse this woman, this object of desire nastily, albeit "as desired "and under her shrill, baseless screams of pleasure.
OK, that was all here or, in the Balearic area. Where else, please? The Dominican Republic? Stop it with Caribic! Tourist paradises next to ghettos where poor blacks vegetate, without running water, no cars, carrying loads on their skulls, on a round bead? Fascinating how they manage that, 20 liters of water. But: We tourists lie on the fine sandy beach, drinking whiskey-cola, let us worry about the locals, who have parrots sitting on their shoulders and or even sometimes annoy us (Prolex en masse from the jacket pocket. That is not at all possible!
Well, it was not so bad in Spain. At most the other way around, that puritanical locals (most were Franco-ironed) entrenched themselves with binoculars behind the dunes and jerked off over the sight of the firm-titted, well - round-assed northern European women. The good wanker middle between Arabia and Northern Europe!
And Formentera is still well visited ...
Hier mal unser dritter Kursplan (historisches Dokument!)