Reader Mail

Escape From Desiderata

A blast from the healthy past: Never give up. Also: Oil-resistant pronouncements. Starving on biofuels. ESPN on probation. Plus more.

7.24.08

Send to Kindle

BLAST FROM THE PAST
Re: James Bowman's Desired Things:

James Bowman, by even bothering to note the passing of Les Crane, treats "Desiderata" with far more respect than it merits. Even from the moment it came out, both the poem -- and more so, the recording of it -- were objects of contempt and ridicule, perhaps the most damning of all being the National Lampoon's parody, "Deteriorata," which begins:

Introduction

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.


It mainly consists of a serious of banal non-sequiturs, in much the same manner as the original:
Avoid quiet and passive persons
Unless you are in need of sleep.

Ro-tate 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.


The parody ends on a perfect note, capturing the utter insipidity of the original and making impossible even to she the lame poster without bursting into gut-busting laughter:
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 main-te-nance.

Therefore, make peace with your god
Whatever you conceive him to be--
Hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises and urban renewal
The world continues to deteriorate.

GIVE UP!

Reprise

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.


Indeed, the universe is. I suspect that the people who bought Les Crane's album, or who decorated their basement crashpads back in the '60s with the psychedelic poster, are beginning to realize this is true.
-- Stuart Koehl
Falls Church, Virginia

The movie "Love Serenade" may be, as you say, the most brilliant use of the execrable poem "Desiderata," but a strong contender would have to be National Lampoon's 1972 recording "Deteriorata."

The Lampoon's version soars with uplifting messages such as "And reflect that whatever may be your lot/ It could only be worse in Milwaukee." (I would add, "unless you're a conservative in Seattle," but that would ruin the meter.)

National Lampoon's version might even have made it possible to listen to Les Crane right after eating.
-- Bob Vogler
Seattle, Washington

Oh, yeah -- I remember the "Desiderata" from my college undergraduate days. My fraternity brothers and I thought it was pretty lame back then. If a guy had a poster of this dissertation on the wall of his room, he either (a) got it as a present from his girlfriend, or (b) posted it to show dates what a "sensitive" soul he was (though I'm certain that this poster produced eye-rolls from most girls who saw it in a guy's room).

More popular was the National Lampoon's satire of this piece called "Deteriorata." It was one of their most popular posters. It starts out:

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.

The entire piece can be read at the following link.

And in the closing words of the immortal "Deteriorata":

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 conceive him to be:
hairy thunderer or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
the world continues to deteriorate.

Give up.
-- Bill Erdmann
University Park, Illinois

Sitting here, at 5:30 am, giggling like an infantile goofball, recalling the time when my wife (with only her MBA; hadn't added another Masters and her Ph.D. yet) and I sat mesmerized, jaws having probably dropped in unison, watching that hilarious flick from Down Under. Don't think it was supposed to be a satire, but, then again, I'm sure not sure.

Those two sisters desiring that pretentious clown, Ken Sherry? His Pabulum Puke recordings by Les Crane, Barry White and their ilk (love that word!), whew. Bordering on incomprehensible, 'cept for the fact that there wasn't all that much doing in that little Aussie town... damn, that was one fun movie! Gotta thank Mr. Bowman for the (chuckle) memories (sigh). I love baaad movies! Yet, the acting, as I recall, was semi-remarkable; couldn't stop watching. Almost as much fun as "Blood for Dracula." Perhaps more?

The fact that I was in the broadcasting business for something like 47 years notwithstanding, that was a classic, and I thank Mr. Bowman for reminding me of that fun night as we sat, jaws askew, anticipating what might happen at the top of that water tower...
-- frost
P.S. -- I recall reading somewhere that Les Crane changed/chose his name while at a urinal in a men's room. Hey, could'a been Les American or...

In regards to James Bowman's piece on Les Crane's "Desiderata" -- Mr. Crane's recording is not the definitive version of that poem --- this is.
-- B. Vallely

REAL CLEAR CONTEMPT
Re: Peter Ferrara's Shut Up and Produce Some Oil:

I've never heard of this guy but from reading his article it is clear that he is retarded. I understand that giving space in your interesting website to mentally disabled children is a noble and admirable thing to do as no doubt they could enjoy the added attention. However I think it is irresponsible to not put a warning next to your articles letting readers know that the author is retarded. While I was able to figure this out quickly after only reading the first couple paragraphs, others may not be quite as astute and may assume that there is a semblance of fact or rational argument in this pile of garbage. So I think as the responsible newspaper/dishrag that you are you should either prohibit retards from having their own columns or at least warn readers of the possible dangers of consuming trash like this. Please pass on my regards to little Petey.
-- Daniel Paul-Schultz
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research
Washington, D.C.

"In Georgia, a state judge denied a permit for a new coal electricity plant on the grounds of global warming (which is a figment of the liberal imagination to justify a big government power grab)..." (Nice way to put Global Warming into perspective, here.)

"Obama believes that the imperative to confront climate change requires that we prevent a new wave of traditional coal facilities in the U.S." (In actuality, Obama's very much in favor of new style coal plants, and nobody wants traditional coal facilities, period.)

"The NRDC is urging the court to adopt a new interpretation of state law that would require BP to get a new state permit first because with the expansion the refinery would supposedly discharge more 'pollution than the current state permit allows." (I never realized that the existence of pollution was in question. Did the Liberals make up "pollution" too?)

That was in the first six paragraphs. I'm wondering if anybody actually read the seventh.
-- Matthew Huntington

Mr. Ferrara has it just right. It's too bad that the vast majority of Americans will not see this essay.

Mr. Ferrara recognizes the point that fuel shortages are an outcome of too much demand and too little supply. The liberals know this as well. They are not stupid.

Liberals know that an increase in domestic production could be accomplished in a relatively short time if the ridiculous maze of environmental rules could be suspended for a period.

But liberals don't want the problem fixed!

Wake up America! This is another radical-liberal power grab. The left is continuing its attempt to establish a society here modeled on that established by their hero in Cuba. They know my Dad's old adage is absolutely true: "Those you would control completely, first make completely dependent."

So the leftist radicals are making a grab to control who you can see and what treatment you can have medically. They already pretty much control the print and TV media -- look at the NY Times refusing McCain's editorial until it looks more like Mr. Obama's, which they printed without change.

So they now have education sewed up, two of our most ubiquitous media outlets are in their grasp and control; they will get our medical care; and are striving mightily to take over the energy sector -- yes Margaret, there has been talk of nationalizing oil refineries --and then...

Well, then, the radicals will have control over what news content you are allowed to know, your ability to obtain medical care, your ability to travel and what you are taught as truth.

The final step will be the reopening of huge mental hospitals that were closed in the 70's. Why? Because as in the former Soviet Union, anyone who doesn't think collectivism is utopia must be crazy. Crazy people oughtn't to be allowed to poison the society so we must have a place to put them, n'est-ce pas?
-- Jay Molyneaux
North Carolina

Liberals and leftists have gotten away with this decades-long, destabilizing, anti-capitalist, bondage-inducing hogwash because the rest of us have been unwilling and too unorganized to put them in their place.

Perhaps when focused anti-environmental-wacko organizations arise and communicate simple, powerful messages about the disbenefits and damages of the some so-called-environmentalists' agenda, their voice will diminish.

Or perhaps when congressional switchboards are continuously overloaded, e-mailboxes remain constantly full, surface-mailboxes remain stuffed -- all with the public's complaints and demands for action, the liberals in Congress will do something differently.

Or perhaps when we stop electing and re-electing them to Congress, they will stop.

Or perhaps when the conservatives and Republicans in Congress actually do something meaningful and lasting, especially when the spotlights aren't on and the news cameras aren't operating, they will change.

Until any or all of these or similar things occur, liberals have no motivation to do or say anything other than the execrable things they're doing.
-- C. Kenna Amos
Princeton, West Virginia

Despite the fact that I am a free market conservative, I take issue with Peter Ferrara's assertion that there are essentially no limits to American "opulence," aka irresponsible behavior. For example, why shouldn't more fuel-efficient European "sardine cans" be available for sale in America?

Neither mindless consumerism nor radical environmentalism owns the franchise on virtue. It makes no sense to exploit domestic energy resources if the net outcome is zero, due to American profligacy.

Americans have never been self-defeatists. There's no reason to start down that road -- on either fork.
-- Arnold Ahlert
Boca Raton, Florida

Although I agree with Peter Ferrara's thesis that we should produce more oil, I do not agree that it doesn't matter if we sell it overseas. He argues that even if we do sell ours overseas, we can buy some of the resulting world surplus [from overseas].

He also assumes that the resulting world surplus will actually occur and that the OPEC countries will not cut back on their production. Naive!

His is exactly the fuzzy thinking that got us into this mess in the first place.

If we sell our "new" oil overseas, our oil-producing companies will make bigger profits, but the average person who needs fuel oil and gasoline at lower prices will not benefit from the increased flow.

If we buy more oil from overseas, we will send even more of our elusive capital overseas. That not only weakens our ability to produce saleable goods and weakens our dollar, it strengthens potential adversaries of many stripes overseas.

Venezuela has already spent $3 billion on Russian armaments, and is reportedly trying to buy $8 billion more. Where did they get all that cash? Selling oil. To whom? Us. Why is that so blinkin' hard to understand?

Drill more oil; refine more oil; sell more to us at lower prices. Why is that so blinkin' hard to understand?

Start putting America and Americans first! Why is that so double-blinkin' hard to understand?
-- A. C. Santore

Well, Mr. Ferrara, you've got my vote. Shame you're not running for office. Although, with your connections from the Reagan White House, what can you do to convenience the Republican Party to fuel the 'right-wing attack machine' with this kind of rhetoric and go to town on our liberal um... friends? See, this is exactly what is wrong with modern America. Not that the Liberals are in charge (that doesn't help) but just simply that we have allowed the Government so much power that they are now destroying the country our forefathers and philosophical ancestors worked so hard to build. Welcome to democracy, everyone. This is what always happens in democracy. Our Founding Fathers knew this, why did we allow ourselves to forget?

But, Mr. Ferrara, I'm going to tell you exactly what I friend of mine said to me not too long ago. I thought it perfectly encapsulated the modern liberal philosophy. "You're dealing with reality. Stop it!"
-- Charles Campbell
Austin, Texas

I do not want a Prius, or Social Security, or any other of the loathsome regulations imposed by the liberal Democrats, just leave the American people alone and things will work just fine.
-- John Orr
Tucson, Arizona

Could someone put this directly into the hands of a McCain lieutenant? Why is HE (McCain) not driving this information home via his campaign?

Great article....We here in Arizona have been debating this for some time, and this is the best written article I've seen on this subject.

"Indefensible Biofuels" [see below--Ed.] is another great article on why we should not be supporting any of this garbage.
-- Jon
Tucson, Arizona

FOSSIL FIENDS
Re: William Yeatman & Marlo Lewis's Indefensible Biofuels:

Biofuels: Green genocide.
-- Reid Bogie
Waterbury, Connecticut

"Indefensible Biofuels" by Yeatman and Lewis is on the mark. I have a better idea. Russia has a conifer forest the size of the United States. They should start to cut down the forest to turn the wood into methanol, which is like ethanol. The forest is so huge, they could only cut down tiny parts of it before it grows back. Russia could make vast quantities of methanol for export or for internal use, supplanting oil, without affecting the food supply. It also would employ many people.
-- Nikitas
Pittsfield, Massachusetts

I'll say it again. Water, our most precious resource. Growing and refining corn uses a whopping amount.

Production in the U.S. erodes soil about 12 times faster than the soil can be reformed, and irrigating corn mines groundwater 25 percent faster than the natural recharge rate of ground water . It takes 26 gallons of water to grow one ear of corn, or 1cubic meter / 16 lbs. The cornbelt aquifer has only so much water left and once it's pumped dry, that's it.

Depending on rainwater led to the Dustbowl. Water rights are set in stone, human usage gets top priority, followed by other needs. Experts, please put this into your equation and give it a good hard look.
-- Russel Ready

Your Messrs. Yeatman and Lewis ably unmasked the fraud that is ethanol. What they neglected to state is the energy balance of ethanol production, namely:

1) you need diesel-driven tilling machines to prepare the land;
2) you need petroleum- derived fertilizers and the diesel-driven machines to place them;
3) you need diesel-driven harvesting machines to gather the corn;
4) you need diesel-driven trucks to transport the corn to the processing factory;
5) you need electric power from oil-fired or gas-fired power plants and oil or gas directly to heat and process corn into ethanol;
6) you need diesel-driven trucks to supply ethanol to the mixing stations where ethanol is mixed with gasoline;
7) and finally, you need diesel-driven trucks to deliver the ethanol-gasoline mix to your gas station.

I neglect here several other operations in this cycle that consume petroleum and natural gas. The energy balance of ethanol production is negative when compared with pure gasoline, and not only that -- it increases our need for imported petroleum. When combined with tax giveaways and subsidies the ethanol mandate is a scheme of incomparable ignorance, stupidity, and in effect absolutely criminal in intent. And I should add to this sorry idea the additional carbon dioxide produced in all these operations that contributes to the famous globaloney warming.
-- Marc Jeric
Las Vegas, Nevada

PODIUM DISGRACE
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's Sports Heroes?:

While Ms. Fabrizio is free to feel any way that she wants about Smith and Carlos, I think that judging them now for their actions then is a bit too much of the perfect vision of 20/20 hindsight. The late 1960s was a time of great social upheaval, and the "Black Power" movement was a pushback against the idea that blacks should continue to patiently wait for America to honor her commitments "with all deliberate speed." Think of it this way, 1968 was a decade after the landmark Brown ruling, yet schools were still segregated and Jim Crow laws were still being enforced in much of the South; for example, the schools in my North Carolina county were not totally integrated until the early 1970s. Their protest, from all I have ever read was to draw attention to the fact that despite all of America's promises, and in the face of a Supreme Court ruling, blacks were still being treated as second class citizens.

As for this statement, "Are Smith and Carlos to be commended for speaking out against what they perceived to be injustice? Yes, but to treat them as heroes without an acknowledgement of the harm done by members of the Black Power movement to racial harmony in this country is intellectually dishonest. Most of these groups intentionally fomented a climate of racial hatred and cultural separation that sadly still exists today; even in sports," I agree to a certain extent. But is it fair to them to have the problems created by the "Black Power" movement dumped solely at their doorsteps? I fail to see where two athletes raising gloved fists in 1968 helped to foment a climate of racial hatred and cultural separation, no matter how much others want to see it that way.
-- Eric Edwards
Walnut Cove, North Carolina

I remember watching this travesty live on the television when I was 11 years old.

It is a moment I have chosen to not hold onto, because it was such an embarrassment that 2 US athletes would besmirch the national anthem, their teammates and the Olympics to further their political agendas.

I was completely shocked that ESPN would honor such shameful behavior.

However, the facts that ESPN would have Justin Timberlake host the event and then give a seemingly coveted award to two of the least deserving recipients signals the death knell of ESPN for me. After his appalling performance at the Super Bowl a few years ago (in front of millions of children viewers), hasn't he kind of worn out his welcome for sporting events?

ESPN is frequently on at the gym where I exercise, and, unless you are pro sports fanatic, it is worthless. A case in point is the amount of air time that it has given to whether (and with whom) Brett Favre will come out of a retirement (that he never really took). Yawn.

ESPN is all about celebrity worship and political correctness.
-- Christopher A. Hall
Knoxville, Tennessee

Thank you, Ms. Fabrizio, for expressing the revulsion I felt when I saw these two poseurs being honored on ESPN. Smith and Carlos are only noteworthy because they showed the human body could perform at a high level long after the mind ceased to function. It is a long fall from the dignity of Jesse Owens and Jackie Robinson to the buffoonery of Pacman Jones and Chad Johnson. Smith and Carlos helped grease the skids.
-- Wendell Talley
Fort Worth, Texas

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article