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Alumna Randee Mia Berman pens 'Ode to Cornell @ 150'

Randee Mia Berman
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Randee Mia Berman ’74 paid tribute in verse to Cornell on its sesquicentennial with a new limerick.

In her tribute in verse to Cornell on its sesquicentennial, writer Randee Mia Berman ’74 references everything from beloved professors and Cornell’s founders to the Dairy Bar, Plantations and Collegetown haunts. Naming several of her alma mater’s famous alumni, she observes: “The list is more than a mile / From Kurt Vonnegut to Sandy Weill.”

The poem is a limerick written “somewhat à la Morris Bishop, Cornell’s master of light verse,” Berman says. “I started writing it two months ago, and it just got longer and longer, and I didn’t stop.”

Berman was a College Scholar at Cornell and is now a writer, performer, comedienne and commentator in New York City. She writes a blog for the Huffington Post and hosts “Mia’s World” on City World Radio Network.

She says she was nostalgic for Cornell and regularly writes commentary in verse for her radio show.

“Morris Bishop was a serious historian, but he had a lighthearted approach, using humor integrated into learning,” Berman says. “The spirit of Cornell is the spirit of synthesis for me, its very interdisciplinary, synthesized approach.”

Berman interviews “musicians, writers, artists, anyone with a passion for what they do” on her weekly program, and is featuring Cornell content this week. A live performance by The Hangovers, originally broadcast April 18, will be rebroadcast Tuesday, April 21, from 8-9 p.m., followed by a segment with professor of government Isaac Kramnick and John Foote ’74 from 9-10 p.m. 

ODE TO CORNELL @ 150

Pray tell, from the very beginning

How Cornell was the underpinning

Of solidity

And liquidity –

A soul that was truly winning.

 

Now our alma mater’s one hundred fifty

We’re all feeling pretty nifty

I’ll try to be cursory

On this special anniversary

‘Cause Cornell taught us to be thrifty

 

Both Ezra and A.D. White

Were imbued with exuberant delight

These comrades were thrilled

To dream and to build

An institution of depth and foresight

 

If they could fast forward in time

To hear just one Cornell chime

Take a campus-wide spin

They’d each wear a wide grin

And remark on the spirit sublime

 

They’d marvel at all the alum

At the haunts that made us all hum

From Bud’s Diner to Zinck’s

As iconic as Sphinx

The parts bigger than the sum!

 

They’d surely applaud the change

From Morrill Land Grant and grange

To arts, engineering

They’d both be cheering

At the university’s focus and range.

 

From the Lab of Ornithology;

And Mike Abrams’ Norton Anthology;

To jock Ed Marinaro,

Folksy Peter Yarrow;

Jim Maas’ power nap psychology;

 

Morris Bishop – what a fella –

To campus groups a cappella

From Jemison Mae,

Astronaut of the Day,

To the trusty Cornell umbrella!

 

Would they just keep turning the page

From Balch to Chapel Sage?

What would they think

Of Lynah Rink?

That hockey was all the rage?

 

They’d be stunned about how far

We’d come from one Bill – Maher

To another – Bill Nye

The Science Guy

From Ithaca to Qatar

 

That Cornell’s a string of pearls

From Pearl Buck, the list unfurls

From Christopher Reeve

For whom we still grieve

To a stunning list of girls:

 

The femmes like Myra Hart

Who gave chain Staples its start

They’d be swaggering

At the staggering

Gestalt – so savvy, so smart!

 

If they took a Sunday stroll

Over campus hill, dale & knoll

They’d skip and dance

At the vast expanse

Of buildings – ‘twould soothe the soul

 

From moguls Milstein and Tisch

To some of the smaller fish

From the Glee Club Choir

To Richard Meier

And the Statler Hotel’s daily dish

 

Gourmet foodies like Nieporent (Drew)

And media babes beaucoup:

Ann Coulter, Kate Snow,

Jane Lynch – what ho!

The historical rowing crew.

 

The list is more than a mile

From Kurt Vonnegut to Sandy Weill.

Harry Chapin’s guitars

Sagan’s billions of stars

Cornell simply does beguile.

 

They’d blush at the grandiose realm

They’d be crushed by the poor Dutch elm

They’d love Isaac Kramnick

And Altschuler dynamnick

And salute the new Prez at the helm

 

Admiring the evolution

And the ’69 Straight revolution

They’d shout out loud

And would be mighty proud

Of this splendid institution

 

From the head of Murray’s Cheese

To experts who study trees

At Cornell Plantations

And their arborist revelations

And CAU overseas.

 

The Moosewood they would hail

Where we first took note of kale

And fennel and faro

And nutritious bone marrow

‘twas the Organic Ithaca tale

 

From the landmark Louie’s Lunch truck

And Ken Dryden’s way with the puck

The Supreme Court truth

With Bader Ginsburg Ruth

Cornell’s got pizzazz and pluck

 

The observatory astronomic

Alfred Kahn’s path economic

Huey and The News;

Nabokov, the muse;

Hans Bethe and all things atomic

 

Phil Shapiro (WVBR);

Ratan Tata and Nano, his car;

Just to ponder Libe Slope

Helps us all better cope

Now it’s off to the Chapter House bar

 

From Dame’s Rocket, the lush perennial

To The Dairy Bar – oh so zen-nial –

The tranquil Plantations

All night conversations

Amen to our sesquicentennial.

 

                        – Randee Mia Berman ’74

 

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