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
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