Archive for October, 2010

Faces of the MONKEY KING Mandala

I have put together a mandala with the faces of the MONKEY KING, click on it for the larger version.


© 33madspirals 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to 33madspirals with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Riddle Riddle on the wall
What is the choice about to fall?
Between two shits, you shall choose none
Choose the new way when it comes

The road opens in front, and closes behind
No one else can follow
No one else can try
No one else can understand

Little signs, little signs, little signs, will pave the way
Little signs, little signs, follow them everyday
So small, so faint, so easy to ignore
Whispers, so quiet
So easy to turn around, and repent

Drive into the wall
Full speed ahead
Pedal to the metal
You now go on full red

© 33madspirals 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to 33madspirals with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

International Students in Australia

Recently I had an International Student friend complaining about his time in Sydney, another Australian friend, couldn’t really understand why.

I have long wanted to say something about this, and I think this is the proper time and place to do it, both to express the point of view of International Students and for Australians to better understand the kind of difficulties International Students are faced here with.

This article is mostly about the situation in Sydney, written from a European’s student point of view.

Anyone coming to Australia has to come on a long, expensive trip, a plane ticket from Europe is at least 1000 euros, and that is one way…

Once they get to Australia, International Students face certain difficulties:

– the jobs they have access to, are only low level jobs with extremely high levels of stress and physical strain like: kitchen hand, sandwich hand, bike delivery, floor staff, bartender, waiter, cafe all rounder
– high rent, there is a shortage of housing, especially in Sydney, and landlords and agencies use this to their own advantage to cash in
– they do not get discounts on public transport, which means instead of spending $10-15 dollars a week for transport like Australian students, they have to spend $30-40 per week

Now let’s break those 3 down and elaborate:


Australian law states that an international student is allowed to work only 20 hours a week. The pay international students get in hand is between $8-$22 per hour, depending where they work. $8 would be at a Convenience Store, cash in hand; $22 would be as a bartender for a weekend shift, chef, cook or waiter, contract about $25 before tax, $22 in hand.

To live in Sydney, you need on a weekly basis, to pay $180 on average for rent, transport up to $40 and food up to $100. That totals up to $320. Many people pay rent as high as $250, and I haven’t even gotten into bond.

Now let’s take the best paid people and multiply their pay $22 by 20 hours = $440

$440 – $320 = $120

Now if they want to buy something, go to a movie, go out, or to a concert, there is scarcely anything left. What if they want to save for a ticket back home, which is $1500? They basically have to save for more than a year!!! And this is the people with the best pay, which are not many, and this means just work and school for more than one year, not going out once!!!

Most people get paid up to $17 an hour, let’s do their math.

$17 x 20 = $340

$340 – $320 weekly expenses = $20

Remember this is just for surviving, no fun, no going anywhere except home (which a lot of time is a crowded place with nightmarish flatmates), school and work, basically with no break, a never ending circle.

Now there are a lot of people who get paid less than $17 per hour, like $15, or $12, or even $8.

Just for fun, let’s see the person who earns $8 an hour.

$8 x 20 = $160

$160 – $320 = – $160 !!!

How do international students survive in Sydney then? By working more than 20 hours of course, probably 80% of the international students in Sydney work more than 20 hours a week. And by living like rats clustered in a room to cut on the rent.

The Australian public barely knows anything about this, as they do not live in the same environment as the International Students do.

Japanese people usually can find work only in Japanese places or Japanese owned places; restaurants, convenience stores, escort houses; and because the Japanese owners know this they usually pay between $8 and $12.

Japanese people almost never get hired in a bar, or retail, or anywhere else because of their thick accent. If they would be actually hired there, it would improve their english, instead, they work in Japanese places where they speak Japanese.

When international students come to Sydney to look for work, they have competition; from local Australians, and from backpackers, they are both preferred by employers, international students being third choice. Australians are preferred for obvious reasons, backpackers are preferred because they are usually on a traveling holiday visa and they do not have work restrictions.

Some hospitality venues also have weird kinds of policies: don’t hire asians, don’t hire blacks, don’t hire boys, etc. which of course are not officially endorsed, but you get to hear of them.

There is also no chance of promotion, I have been witness of international students working in the same place more than a year and a half, and instead of them getting promoted, the management promoted a local, that was there for less than 6 months, and could literally not cope with his newly appointed position, but nothing changed about it, they kept the person in the same position even if that person was making a never ending string of mistakes.

This leads to a paradox, you have doctors selling ice cream, engineer waiters, marketing specialist bartenders, IT specialists cleaners and so on, wouldn’t Australia benefit with having these people working in their proper positions?

You can also get fired at any moment, for no reason. In a place where I used to work, somebody got fired because of a managers mistake, but the manager never got investigated and the bartender was fired instead. Also when you get fired, you’re rarely being told to your face; “things” start happening like your name is not rostered anymore, or money starts “missing” from your cash machine, and you start getting written warnings.

This is widespread and common practice.

High rent:

2 bedroom apartments with 8 people living in them is pretty much the standard, and each person pays $160-180. There are 3 people in one room, 2 in the other and 3 in the living room, having their “rooms” portioned off by bed sheets. You can find accommodation ads like: share room with 2 people, no person sleeping in the living room, or only 1 person sleeping in the living room, which are supposed to be a “really good deal.”

If you are looking to live in a house they are usually in bad shape, and almost no house in Sydney has central heating, although it gets really cold during winter. I don’t understand how people have been building houses in Sydney for more than 200 years and don’t build central heating in them. You can have your electric heater on of course, but that barely makes up for the lack of thermal structural isolation, proper double windows, central heading and sends the electricity bill through the roof.

As there is a constant demand for accommodation, even if the house is falling apart, the rent doesn’t go down, because if you’re not going to take the room, the next person will.

Public Transport:

If you go to study in a foreign country, you would think you would have some kind of assistance. You paid money to travel there, you’re going to pay the school, you’re going to pay more for everything in the beginning because you don’t know what is the right price, and where to get things cheapest; which includes the rent as well.

Well in Sydney it’s quite the contrary for transport. If you’re an international student, you have to pay full fee.

To put it simply, the local government is totally missing the plot, and should put more energy in developing proper housing, and working conditions. Should offer the same transport discount rates for international students as they are offering for Australians, and as long as a student meets the required attendance and passes the exams, she/he should be able to work as many hours as they can. They put most of the money they earn back into the Australian economy anyway, so where is the problem?

If anything they should put more energy in policing not the students, but the employers, because most of them are not respecting Australian workplace rights and OH&S regulations.

Australians usually have a standard answer for foreign people complaining, this being:

“If you don’t like it, go back to your own country”

However, if you invite somebody into your house and take their money, you should be fair and tell them about the conditions you are offering. I haven’t even mentioned that most schools, although not all of them, have the curriculum and teaching staff below par.

So next time when advertisements for studying in Australia are put out, they should come with the following disclaimer:

– you will have to work a job way under your qualification, having to obey a boss way under your intelligence level, who is crassly less qualified than you, and thinks he is smarter than you
– you will have to work less efficiently than you can, because that’s how the system is set up and that’s how the boss wants you to work
– you will only be able to work in hospitality or cleaning jobs
– you will have to live in houses with no heating or thermal isolation, pay an exorbitant price and share your room with at least one person
– you will have to pay more than double for transport of what an Australian student pays
– you can be dismissed from your workplace on the spot at any time for no good reason
– you will be expected to work every weekend for an indefinite amount of time, and will be given no holiday unless you specifically ask for it, don’t ask too often
– the amount of hours you are legally entitled to work on a student visa will not earn you enough money to survive in Sydney, and the jobs you have access to are menial so keep your health, don’t bother working in Australia, and bring all your money from home

Every website advertising study in Australia should come with this disclaimer, instead of advertising it as a “no worries” paradise…

If people still complain after reading this disclaimer you have all the rights to say: “If you don’t like it, go back to your own country”

However I’m wondering how many people will come to study in Australia after reading that disclaimer…

© 33madspirals 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to 33madspirals with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Jose – The Sydney Troubadour

He graces the streets of Sydney with his gentle, yet life-full presence singing romantic tunes to the unsuspecting passerby’s. You can find him at Wynyard, Chatswood, Martin Place, Circular Quay or the corner of York and Market Streets.

You play a very particular kind of music, how did you discovered it and embraced it?

I am very emotional, probably too much a lot of the time, I love baroque music, especially the early French music of Marin Marais, Sainte Colombe and Rameau. I also love Brahms and Rachmaninov and also like country music, seventies country rock, Roy Orbison, Linda Rhonstadt, and then Jaques Brel and Edith Piaf [Hymn a l’amour might be the best song ever written] and Joe Dassin and Veronique Sansons.

I also love flamenco guitar and singers. I spend a lot of time listening to, and trying to imitate Paco de Lucia and Cameron. I love the qawali singers of Pakistan. I love tango specifically piazzolla and also a great man who is still alive and working as far as I know Juan Carlos Caceres. Probably the biggest inspiration that ‘kicked off’ my career in music was the Italian composer and poet Paolo Conte. It is also not only about the music in isolation. It is the feeling, the intention and the possibility of communicating ideas that have no form in common language. So other big influences on my music have been the writers Borges, Doris Lessing, Ikbal Ali Shah, John Irving, Jeanette Winterson, Idries Shah and the psychiatrist Arthur Deikman.

I love music with intelligent and strong melodies and honest and intelligent lyrics. I don’t think my work always qualifies but that is where I am heading.

So there you go, the songs I write are a product of misinterpreting all of the about and struggling along with a burning desire to LOVE and quite limited skill and intelligence.

When did you first pick up the guitar, and how did this love story evolve?

Piano lessons from the age of six. Dismal catholic nuns smacking my fingers with a ruler.

Then hearing someone strumming and singing Peaceful Easy Feeling by the Eagles.

Started classical guitar at age 12 became a very good beginner. Was made to believe I was some sort of prodigy; A) because of the over heated imagination of some relatives, B) because of my own innate arrogance, C) because I lived in a country and in a particular part of the country that knows only football and other specific and less definable kinds of violence. It was easy to stand out as a guitar player in that environment.

When I moved to Sydney I was in a situation that made me feel ashamed of the myself and the guitar and it was basically ‘taken away from me’ since lots of my new friends did not see it as something worthwhile. I have since met lots of people to whom this has happened.
My second chance came with a very dear friend Gino Pengue. He is probably Sydney’s best guitar player and he used to come and sit in the hallway with me at my house and we used to play. Thus the song Gino.

I am starting to get there as a guitar player and if I make it to 55 I should be good.

I know you paint as well, what other things do you do?

I have an exhibition opening on the 15th Oct at RAW STUDIOS on Pittwater Road DEE WHY Right where the buses stop at Dee Why Main. I am exhibiting with three other wonderful women who’s work is very inspiring: Senka Holly and Isabelle.

I went to art school in the eighties and finished a degree in drawing and sculpture. The teachers there were fantastic and I learned everything I know about composition, both in art and music, from them.

Can you tell us about you travels in Europe?

Twenty Three. Living alone in Manly and spending all of my spare time alone painting. Working as a barman at The Regent Hotel, putting in 70 hours a week. Earning a fortune. Twenty Three year olds who are used to swimming in the river don’t need to spend a lot of money when they move to Sydney and as a committed daydreamer I kept forgetting to go and pick up my pay. In those days you went to Human Resources and they paid cash every Thursday. So when I quit my job with no other plan in mind someone suggested I should go and get my pay.

‘Will they still have it I asked?’

I went up to Human Resources and they gave me $1200 dollars It must have been six weeks or so since I had last picked up my pay.
So here I am wandering up George Street wondering what to do next when I see a sign Europe Return $1180. I looked in my pockets and thought, I’ll have one of those.
The left over $20 was enough for the train ride home and after working on a farm for 3 weeks I left for Europe with $300 and no real plan except that ‘If I don’t get a job I can always come back when the money runs out.’

Got a job in a pub in 2 days, worked in England for 3 months, but the whole thing started getting really interesting when I left my job. At that time they paid a week in arrears. I had bought a bicycle was supposed to leave for France the following day. I had planned to ride through France and eat bread, but those horrible people from the pub made me wait a week in London for one weeks wages. It was going to cost me more than a weeks wages even if I stayed in a backpackers. My bike was stolen and it was raining. So do I give up on a weeks wages or stay and wait?

Growing up in semi rural Australia has its advantages. I was passing a furniture store and saw some men unwrapping a three-seater lounge. There was this huge sheet of good quality heavy clear plastic that came off in one piece. I asked if I could have it and they gave it me. For a week I slept in Holland Park, [the bushy end where there is an emu and gay men wait for each other; no one tried to pick me up] and went sight seeing every day and had a wonderful week in London. Got my pay and went to FRAAAAAANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then my life turned very beautiful. I hitch hiked out of London. My third lift that day was a crazy Irish final year medical student and his crazy Irish final medical year student friends. They were wonderful and on their way to Belgium for a holiday. They took me with them onto the ferry and insisted that I stay with them. They bought my dinner and at about 11pm dropped me off somewhere up in the north of France.

I will never forget waking up to the most lovely smell of grass and wild flowers and earth. I was on the side of the road and the rain was falling like a gentle mist onto my plastic furniture wrapping. I was warm and dry inside.

This is a long story with lots of love and adventure which I will tell somewhere else. I made life long friends and when I had to come back to Australia. I left a good half of my soul behind. For years after I had very realistic almost mundane dreams that there was one of me still living and working in France. It is the only place in the world where I have truly felt at home.

What is your actual heritage?

My father is the most warm hearted and tolerant man on the planet. My mother is a creative and passionate and, like me, over emotional daydreamer.

You are a regular street player in Sydney, what has this taught you about the city, the people, and yourself?

Here is the dedication from my album “AT WYNYARD PARK”

“My experience playing out on the street has convinced me that the people of Sydney are just absolutely beautiful, inside and out, and I am really lucky to be in a position to see it day after day.

I would like to dedicate this album to all the people I have met and all those who have listened to me play especially in Chatswood, Martin Place, Circular Quay and Wynyard Park.

Perhaps you bought a CD or just stopped to talk a bit, some of you bought me coffee or put coins in my cd case but literally thousands of you found ways to express gratitude in thousands of ways; a wave, a nod, a smile, an email…one old lunatic even gave me his favorite stick!

You have all made my life wonderful. I love playing guitar, but when your eyes meet mine and we smile for a moment, this is the magic of living.

So this album is for you

Thank you


I know everyone likes this one, and I am no exception, you have been probably asked one thousand times, could you tell the story behind the song “Gratie Paulo” which is my favorite song of yours?

In France in 1987 Paolo Contes album COMEDIE was very popular. Having spent 7 days sleeping on the side of the road I first heard this album sitting in front of a fire with some very beautiful friends after a wonderful dinner.

It was the theme music for my months of hitchhiking around France.

In 1992 I was working as Night Porter at an apartment building at the Quay. 11pm till 7am and then off to Art School for the day.

A young guest locked himself out of his room. What began as a typical conversation turned and became a life time friendship:

where are you from?


how do you like Australia?

I hate it

[me suddenly laughing and crying at the same time]

so do I but I’ve been here most of my life, what is your excuse? actually who cares, anyway one of my favourite singers is Italian.

if you say Pavarotti I will be sick.

no not Pavarotti.


Paolo Conte

he literally fell into an arm chair in the foyer.

how can you possibly know Paolo Conte, even in Italy most people hate him.

We have been friends, as I said, for life.

Much later I am married with children of my own and one of my friends phones me, quite distressed:

Joseph I need your help


my daughter Josephine, do you remember her?

[I could never forget Josephine. She was 7 years old when I was there. A funny little sprite.]

The story was that she was now 19 and was going to travel no matter what. My friend Bruno was beside himself with anxiety. So she came to stay.

Again there is so much more to this story but the girl had grown into a sensitive and intelligent young woman with a most hilarious sense of humour which was her birth right in that family. But SHE HAD NEVER HEARD PAOLO CONTE! A scandal which I soon put right.

So the story came full circle. I discovered Paolo Conte in front of a French fire. She sat in front of an electric heater in Sydney and fell in love with one of the best song writers on the planet.

Grazie Paolo is a tribute to Paolo Conte.

A lot of your songs have very sensual lyrics and a lot of nudity, do they draw from your own experiences?

This is a great question because it is currently one of great concern and I find myself talking about it quite a lot.

I am from a big family. When we were babies they bathed us together four at a time to save on tank water, when we were kids we used to swim in water holes naked. A few years after I left home I went to art school where my first class was a life drawing class. I can’t say I wasn’t shocked when I walked into my first drawing class and beautiful women took off all her clothes but I was shocked in a very good way. I learned a way to love and appreciate people and their bodies in a way that allowed me to think of them with deep respect and at the same time respect my own crazy attraction to them. One day during my second year at art school the model didn’t turn up and I offered to model for the class. It was very relaxing so I signed on to the roster and worked regularly as a model for the rest of my time at the school. We were studying the drawings of Leonardo, Tintoretto, Michael Angelo, Raphael, the paintings of Matisse, Cezanne, Picasso, the sculptures of Rodin …in short the whole history of the nude figure.

The human body is intensely beautiful every single one of them and as I said when you concentrate and draw you develop a respect and ease which permits you to treat very sexy people well. It doesn’t stop you having an affair with someone if that is a good thing to do, but it is the polar opposite to the current sexual culture which I would like to talk about now.

In general I feel better around women. I have always been at a loss when groups of men or individuals comment on women. ‘Look at the tits on that one’ etc. It just confuses and depresses me. If you say anything against this, people think you are either a puritan or dishonest or both. The answer is, of course her body is beautiful and of course having sex with her would be great but what other possibilities are there here. Perhaps there are real possibilities. Possibilities that allow her space to be all of herself, to have ideas and longings of her own and perhaps your own part in it, may not really involve your own desire ‘to fuck her’. Maybe there are possibilities that could range from being useful in some way, or just leaving her alone to a life time friendship.

The other thing that happens here, when you think with the ‘nice arse’ mentality, is that only people with beautiful bodies become visible at all. It becomes very easy to disrespect and fail to value women who are older, or children or people with disabilities or men [if being ‘straight’ is very important to you]. Perhaps men need more intelligent attention from men. Maybe older women need attention too. Maybe older women have something amazing to offer in terms of intelligence and understanding and a certain feeling for life. But many of us miss this because we are wasting time mentally undressing the ‘hot chick’ who is walking past.

So yes I draw and paint and write songs and novels about people with no clothes on. What is even more interesting is the current perceptual climate.

I am about to have an exhibition of drawings and paintings. Mostly nudes. I am working along the very long tradition of ‘the nude’ in art. There are references in my work to Leonardo, Matisse and Picasso, there are techniques from Daumier and Tintoretto. I have created scenes and ‘stories’ that are very intimate, very nude, but not sexual as such. The one question I am getting over and over again is ‘WHY ARN’T THEY WEARING ANY CLOTHES?’. Friends making comments that Josie is obsessed with naked women etc. [P.S. I am, we all are.]

What is enormously confusing and distressing for me is that the same people who are ‘shocked’ by the nudity and intimacy are the same people who will say ‘whoa look at the arse on her.’ They are also the same people who listen to 2DayFM and think that everything they hear is normal. Have you listened recently. The new Rhianna song.

Rapper says ‘If you want anal I’m your man’

Rhianna says ‘I want to be a freak tonight…you can have me this way you can have me that way…’


I love the way you lie

‘If she fucks with me again I’m going to tie her to the bed and burn the house down’

and she says ‘I love the way it hurts’

or California Girs Snoop Dog ‘all that ass hangin’ out’

I am not arguing for censorship I am just confused that the same people who happily see pornographic advertising, listen to commercial radio and watch television can look at my paintings and ask ‘Why are they naked?’

Do you think there are enough outlets and opportunities in Sydney, for the kind of music that you play?

Sydney will be great in 100 years. So far we have not moved to far past football and beer and other forms of thuggery.

You have a film project in development, could you tell me more about it?

I wrote a play REHEARSAL SPACE about the impossibility of LOVE surviving longer than a butterfly. It includes all the music from my album IN LOVE WITH YOU. I think it would make a great film. If you can imagine Roman Polanski’s A PURE FORMALITY as a musical.

You can find more about Jose on his own website, right here:

© 33madspirals 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to 33madspirals with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


A man is forced one day, to take a different route to work.
This proves to be way more than expected. Could taking a different road change your life?


Leech is a short film about control


Phone is an experimental film I did on a small point n’ shoot camera