T.S. Eliot & my Dead Father: On Sitting Out the War


T.S. Eliot as a schoolboy: pre-malaise.

I apologize to my 4-odd fans (I know my place), that my recent posts have strayed into the lands of Hip Hop, but if you’re me, you know that it’s all connected back to the Lost Generation. Just ask Q-Tip.

In the interest of staying off-brand, I’d also like to announce that my father David Felth has died, and that, as a young hippie, he had a hilarious run-in with the Vietnam War. But that’s later.

Phew. Okay, back to authors.

Second things first (sidebar: I don’t know when I became Lewis Carroll), T. S. Eliot. Thomas Stearns Eliot. Total stick up his ass, but I blame the time period. So here’s the proverbial scoop.

After suffering from “exhaustian” (poet euphemism for a jolly suicide attempt, which we all have, trust me), Mr. Eliot was like, yo, I’m NOT going to war. I’m not playing a hero I’m not that kind. So he sits out the war and instead transfers from his college in Germany (he was studying abroad via Harvard University) to Oxford. Writes things like “Prufrock” and “The Waste Land” in between the World Wars, grows old, wears the bottoms of his trousers rolled, scuttles along the seabed like ragged crablegs from Red Lobster, blah blah blah.


David Felth with child, circa 1988

So what does David Felth have to do with any of this? First of all, the great artistic mind of a generation that I am, he is my father, so that’s one tick. Second, he narrowly avoided the draft during the Vietnam War! (whaaat? how?? stay tuned!) His hair (pre-fatherhood days) was once long and thick and unwashed, his clothes grungy. He didn’t want to go to war, he just wanted a joint! But his number was coming up.Instead of fret, he just smoked more weed and got a Masters Degree. ANYWAY, it was Mother’s Day, 1973. Richard Nixon came on the television and said, as a Mother’s Day gift to the nation, he was excusing the following birthdays from being drafted: May 19th. My dad’s birthday.

Short story long, my dad avoided the draft, continued to advocate for medicinal marijuana use until it became legal, and produced a beautifully intelligent, only minorly fucked up daughter (and, fine, two handsome sons) in the interim.

FOR A GOOD TIME >> Read The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock while you listen to to this (Thomas Stearns Eliot’s choice!):