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File:Deteriorata900.jpg

350px

Cquote1.svg

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.

Cquote2.svg

A recording by the National Lampoon, parodying a narmy 1971 Spoken Word recording of the famous and borderline glurgy poem Desiderata. Deteriorata was originally written by Tony Hendra for publication in the magazine. It was recorded as part of the album National Lampoon Radio Dinner, where it was read by voiceover performer Norman Rose, with Melissa Manchester singing the chorus (the music to which was written by Christopher Guest).

It was released as a single in late 1972 and hovered at the bottom of the Billboard magazine chart for several weeks. The Lampoon also produced a poster of the "poem", which itself mocked in style and appearance a well-known poster of Desiderata (see page image). It became one of their best-selling posters. In addition to appearing on a 1977 compilation album called 25 Years of Recorded Comedy which spread it beyond its initial audience, Deteriorata has also made countless appearances on the Dr. Demento radio show, cementing its place in the popular culture and shared meme pool.

Amusingly, Les Crane, who recorded the Grammy-winning 1971 version of Desiderata which inspired this recording, has admitted that he prefers the parody to his own work.

You can listen to it on YouTube, of course.

Tropes used in Deteriorata include:
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: "For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken."
  • Black Comedy
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: The line "Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese", which pokes fun at a contemporary commercial for Gaines-Burgers dog food which asked, "Is your dog getting enough cheese in his diet?"
  • Catch Phrase: Several catch phrases of the late 1960s-early 1970s are incorporated into or referenced by the piece:
    • "Remember the Pueblo", a Bumper Sticker slogan honoring the crew of the USS Pueblo, held hostage by North Korea in 1968.
    • "Do not fold, spindle or mutilate", a common warning printed on computer punched cards (a very pre-Magnetic Disk storage medium for computer data) during the 1960s, and frequently quoted as an ironic commentary on what was perceived as a growing "dehumanization" of society at the time.
    • "Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese" references a contemporary commercial for Gaines-Burgers dog food. (See Blessed Are the Cheesemakers, above.)
  • Crapsack World: Pretty much what the piece assumes that Real Life is, when it's not indulging in outright Absurdism; it is all but stated outright in the final lines: "With all its hopes, dreams, promises & urban renewal, the world continues to deteriorate. Give up."
  • Escape From the Crazy Place: Averted and subverted in the very first lines: "Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof."
  • For Inconvenience Press One: "Wherever possible, put people on hold."
  • For the Love of God, Stay Awake!: "Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep."
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: A pre-fame Melissa Manchester sings the chorus throughout the recording.
  • In the Style Of/Pastiche: Les Crane's Grammy-winning 1971 recording of Desiderata.
  • New Age: The suggestion that one might envision God as a "Cosmic Muffin".
  • Norse Mythology: The alternate visualization for God, as a "Hairy Thunderer".
  • Place Worse Than Death: "...and reflect that whatever misfortune may be your lot, it could only be worse in Milwaukee."
  • Portmanteau: "Deteriorata" is a portmanteau of "deteriorate" and "desiderata" (Latin for "desired things").
  • Professional Butt-Kisser/Lickspittle: "Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself, and heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys. Know what to kiss and when."
  • Remember the Alamo!: "Remember the Pueblo."
  • Spoken Word
  • Ultimate Job Security: "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."
  • "Weird Al" Effect: The original Les Crane recording, despite reaching #8 on the Billboard charts and winning a Grammy Award, is effectively forgotten today. Deteriorata, however, appears to be eternal.
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