"Deteriorata" is a comedy record released as a single in 1972. It is a parody of Les Crane's 1971 spoken word recording of "Desiderata", the early 20th century poem by Max Ehrmann. ("Desiderata" is Latin for "desired things"; "deteriorata" is a portmanteau of the verb "deteriorate" and "desiderata".)
The parody was written by Tony Hendra for National Lampoon, and was recorded for the album Radio Dinner. Narrator Norman Rose read the "poem" and Melissa Manchester sang the song. Christopher Guest wrote the music.
"Deteriorata" appeared on the lower reaches of the Billboard magazine charts for a few weeks in late 1972. The parody gained some significance and popularity as a frequent presentation on the Dr. Demento radio show.
Les Crane himself later admitted that he preferred the parody version over his Grammy-winning recording of the original poem.
The song incorporates several catchphrases and news items of the era:
- "Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but three do." A play on directional logic and the double meaning of the word "right;" as a direction, three left turns (at 90-degree angles) will result in traveling in the same direction as one right turn.
- "Remember the Pueblo", a bumper sticker slogan honoring the crew of the USS Pueblo, held hostage by North Korea in 1968.
- "Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle or mutilate", parodies a caution printed on punched cards, particularly those used as government checks, in the mid-20th century.
- "Take heart amid the deepening gloom that your dog is finally getting enough cheese", making fun of a Gaines-Burgers dog food advertising campaign, which asked, "Is your dog getting enough cheese in his diet?"
- "Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan": the Environmental Protection Agency was established in 1970, and Taiwan was removed from the United Nations in favor of the heretofore unrecognized People's Republic of China in 1972.