On an invitation from Belinda, Wiley joined a session of the Psychosinthesis experience2 – a 24-hour psychedelic therapy session. He was the only gringo in a room of thirty tripping participants, where crude, multi-media depicted scenes of violence, sex, death and pornography were shown, designed to shock and disturb the sensibilities of the average patient while white-coated lab technicians took notes on sterile clipboards, observing and directing the madhouse scene before them.
Among the patients, there were shouts, tears and laughter as medical staff, briefed on case histories, intervened with a personal photo, a family member, a dialogue or an interview about the patients past, taking them down under their "hang-ups" into a guided tour of their own inner lives. At some point during the session, Wiley was questioned about his own raison d'être (who are you and what are you doing here?) to which he replied with a Socratic comeback line - "Who was cooler Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer?" and crawled off to sleep in a corner of the room. With his travels coming to a close, Wiley thanked the Santillo family for their friendship and hospitality. He tucked away a new address in his wallet and told Grego he would search for his father in the Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Backpack assembled, guitar in hand, Wiley took leave of his new found friends.
"We shall stay in touch – further on down the road. Que te vaya bien y adios, amigos de mi corazon."
Como maestro bilingue (a Spanish-English grade school teacher) Wiley later ventured into the American Latino experience, working in a barrio school in South Central Los Angeles, in a neighborhood riddled with gang warfare, barred windows, street violence and, God forbid, illegal immigrants. He taught in a community where the Crips burned the Jr High cafeteria to the ground, where immigrants lived in constant fear of deportation and where his class of 28 Latinos, 4 Afro-American and one white girl looked to him as a safe harbor in a dangerous world. These street-hardened students were eager to learn and over the year, he took them beyond the basics of reading, writing and 'rithmetic and taught them History, Model Cities, Puppet Theater, Drama and Folk Dancing (the Virginia Reel), which they performed in taffeta skirts and leather vests throughout the district.
As that year came to an end, he arranged to take the 10 brightest students for a day-trip to the beach, only to have his plans cancelled by the school principal, who told him, "Take that trip and you'll be fired. We don't have insurance to cover these inner-city kids on a day trip to the beach." He knew then, that his job was to keep students in their chairs, "safe in the schoolroom" and down under the socio-economic forces that would keep them in their place. It was time to go. Like all good stories… this one would end with the blues –
Sometimes I think this world is just one big prison yard:
Some of us are prisoners. The rest of us are guards.
- Dylan (George Jackson)