Deteriorata - National Lampoon

entered by Jeff Morris, November?, 1992

story | Desiderata (original) | Deteriorata (parody)

Ok. Here's as much of the story as I know:
Desiderata means those things desired as essential.
In the early 1920s (some sources say 1906), someone named Max Ehrmann wrote a piece of prose entitled "Desiderata".
In the 1971, a TV talk-show host from San Francisco, Les Crane, did the spoken-word parts on a record of the same name. On the 45, Warner Brothers 7520, the piece was credited to the producer, Fred Werner.
The song peaked at #8 in Billboard.
The words were also printed up on wall posters.
At the time, it was said that the piece was written in 1692, but that proved to be false.
David Chesler informs us:
This misconception has been reported to be on account of the words being printed in some book opposite page to a photograph of a church identified as built in 1692.

At any rate, National Lampoon did a great parody of it on their album Radio Dinner, Banana/Blue Thumb Records BTS-38, 1972. The parody was written by Christopher Guest. The narrator is Norman Rose and the singing is by the then little-known Melissa Manchester. The voice sounds so much like the original and it is delivered with such a straight face, you just have to hear it. For those who haven't, here's the lyrics as a substitute. First, the lyrics to "Desiderata" as they were in the song, and then National Lampoon's version, "Deteriorata". These are the spoken word parts. In addition, the stanza beginning with "You are a child/fluke..." is sung as a chorus.

"Desiderata" - Les Crane

Desiderata. Desiderata. Desiderata.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender,
Be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others -
Even the dull and ignorant, they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons - they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
For always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career -
However humble, it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is.
Many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection, neither be cynical about love.
For in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
It is as perenial as the grass.
Take kindly the council of the years,
Gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune,
But do not distress yourself with imaginings -
Many fears are borne of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe.
No less than the trees and the stars, you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life,
Keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be careful. Strive to be happy.

"Deteriorata" - National Lampoon

You are a fluke of the universe. You have no right to be here.
Deteriorata. Deteriorata.

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss, and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
and despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

Remember The Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself. If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you -
That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart in the bedeepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
And whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god,
Whatever you perceive him to be - hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up!

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