IN REMEMBRANCE: 11-10-2013


Nov. 8, 2013


Dr. Michael Brown, a Houston hand surgeon who was accused of assaulting women, including a flight attendant and two of his wives, has died, his lawyer confirmed to ABC News.

“For all his faults, he was a brilliant man and one of most generous men I ever knew. He loved his children, and he will be missed,” Brown’s attorney Dick DeGuerin said in a statement to ABC News.

Court documents show that Brown went into cardiac arrest on Oct. 24 and had been taken to a Miami hospital.

“Dr. Brown remains hospitalized and is incapacitated,” an Oct. 28 court filing stated. “The extent of the damage he has suffered is unknown. However, it appears to be severe and, at this time, counsel has no ability to communicate with Dr. Brown.”

He was taken off life support Thursday night, according to DeGuerin.

Brown was once considered one of the leading hand surgeons in the country, having developed an innovative treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome. His success led to enormous wealth. He was married four times.

“20/20” Report: The Dr. Michael Brown Story

But over the past decade, Brown ran into legal trouble. In 2000, Brown was arrested and charged with assault after his third wife, Darlina Barone, claimed he beat her while she was seven months pregnant with their second child. At the time, Michael Brown claimed he acted in self-defense.

Ultimately, he pleaded no contest to aggravated assault charges in exchange for 10 years’ probation. In 2001, Darlina filed for divorce and was awarded a $3 million settlement.

Brown then met his fourth and now estranged wife Rachel Brown, who also later accused him of domestic violence. In 2011, Rachel recorded cellphone calls in which Brown was screaming at her and calling her obscene names. Those recordings became evidence in court after Rachel accused Michael Brown of twisting her arm as if he meant to break it. Prosecutors charged him with felony assault, but Brown was acquitted.

Then in January of this year, Brown, who now lived in Miami, was accused of grabbing and choking a flight attendant while on a flight back to the states from London. At the time, Brown’s attorney claimed his client didn’t recall the incident because he had taken stress relievers with alcohol.

Brown pled guilty to charges of “interference with flight crew members and attendants” and was to have started serving a 30-day jail sentence Oct. 25, but instead was rushed to the hospital the day before.

Simultaneously, Brown had been flying back and forth from Miami to Houston to attend bankruptcy hearings over his estate. Seven years ago, Brown lost his medical license after testing positive for cocaine. Afterward, the Brown Hand Centers started losing money and are now in Chapter 11.

According to ABC affiliate KRTK-TV, a trustee for Brown’s estate placed Brown’s debt at more than $37 million.




David Gonzalez/The New York Times

Tato Laviera with his sister Ruth Sanchez in his East Harlem apartment in 2010. Widely anthologized and with numerous titles that remain in demand among students and fans, Mr. Laviera was one of the best-known representatives of the Nuyorican school of poetry.


Published: November 5, 2013

  • Tato Laviera lost his sight, but not his vision. His acclaimed poems and plays captured the rhythms and language of Puerto Rico and the Lower East Side — his twin loves — with equal measures of protest, playfulness and hope.

When health problems briefly left him homeless in 2010, he took part in poetry readings with residents of the shelter where he stayed. “I can create here, and that makes me feel liberated,” he said in an interview at the time. “Being here has given me the spirit of continuity and centrality, and that’s better than a salary.”

Mr. Laviera, who had been in a coma since late January, died on Friday in Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. The cause was complications of diabetes, which years earlier had left him legally blind, said his sister, Ruth Sanchez, who survives him along with his daughter, Ruth Ella Laviera. He was 63 and lived in East Harlem, renting an airy apartment that his admirers helped him get when they learned he had no place to hang his ever-present Panama hat.

In a career that spanned more than four decades, Mr. Laviera published books, plays and poems and made hundreds of appearances at colleges, workshops and literary events. Widely anthologized and with numerous titles that remain in demand among students and fans, he is one of the best-known representatives of the Nuyorican school of poetry.

His words could dance, shout and laugh — in English, Spanish and Spanglish. In “My Graduation Speech,” he showed a playful touch in writing about his multicultural life, and his hair, in these lines:

i think in spanish

i write in english

i want to go back to puerto rico,

but i wonder if my kink could live

in ponce, maygüez and carolina

“The American thing is to forget who you are and become homogenized,” said Jesus Melendez, known as Papoleto, a friend and fellow poet. “The whole Nuyorican struggle was to maintain your roots because they are the groove that keeps it all together. Tato personified that struggle.”

He even took the word and turned it inside out in one collection, “AmerRican,” whose very title made clear his people’s place in the world. That book also featured poems that embraced the city’s diversity as well as his own people’s rich racial roots.

“Tato’s voice was not a singular one, but one that gave voice to people and even objects who did not have a voice but should,” said William Luis, a professor at Vanderbilt University and co-editor of a forthcoming collection of essays on Mr. Laviera. “He was able to reach across boundaries and reach all those different people.”

Jesús Abraham Laviera (Tato was a nickname) was born on May 9, 1950, in the Santurce district of San Juan, P.R., and moved to the Lower East Side as a child. He graduated from Seward Park High School and attended Brooklyn College and Cornell. But his real education, friends and relatives said, came in the neighborhood, where he showed an early knack for activism and organizing (not to mention music and dance).

Elizabeth Colón, a community advocate who befriended him when they were both teenagers, described Mr. Laviera as a natural leader who inspired others to rally around causes, especially youth and education.

“His poetry and creativity came from that,” she said. “It came from his involvement and his participation in the community’s struggle, growing up on the Lower East Side, seeing the abuses and how others who were in charge had the power to intervene and did not. He deeply understood the need of people to participate in their future.”

Mr. Laviera left community organizing to become a full-time poet in the 1970s. (He told the website Latino Rebels that he wanted to be a poet once he saw Luis Palés Matos recite in Puerto Rico in the late 1950s.) His first collection, “La Carreta Made a U-Turn,” was published by Arte Publico Press in 1979.

“To him, poetry was the highest calling,” said Nicolás Kanellos, his publisher. “Even though he lived in relative poverty, he was proud of being part of a tradition that went all the way back to the ancient, epic poets.”

But Mr. Laviera lived — and performed — very much in the moment. In recent years he had been working on a novel about East Harlem, as well as staging his play “The King of Cans” at a theater inside the housing complex where he had been living. He also continued to inspire future poets, sharing encouragement and advice.

Li Yun Alvarado recalled clutching a poem at a workshop that Mr. Laviera gave at Yale 14 years ago. She was nervous. He calmed her down, telling her to “embody the work” and feel the words, linger on the beats and perform. It reminded her of how her 93-year-old grandmother could still remember a poem she had learned as a child.

“He took me back to that history of poetry as part of our culture,” said Ms. Alvarado, who is now a doctoral candidate at Fordham University. “He was our troubadour. He told our story.”





Published: November 5, 2013

  • Charlie Trotter, a chef whose flagship restaurant, Charlie Trotter’s, helped establish Chicago as a serious dining city, died on Tuesday. He was 54.

M. Spencer Green/Associated Press

Charlie Trotter in 2006.

Sally Ryan for The New York Times

Mr. Trotter, in the restaurant that bore his name, talked about his career with students from Evanston Township High School in 2011.

A family friend, the chef and restaurant owner Carrie Nahabedian, said that Mr. Trotter was discovered unconscious at his home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood by his son, Dylan, and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital by the Fire Department.

A spokesman for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed his death and said an autopsy would be conducted on Wednesday.

Mr. Trotter’s local reputation took wing quickly after his restaurant opened in 1987 on West Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park. His cookbooks, a shower of James Beard Awards and his PBS television series “The Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter” made him a national, if somewhat idiosyncratic, figure.

Mercurial, driven and temperamental, Mr. Trotter was largely self-taught. After pursuing a whirlwind education that took him to 40 restaurants in five years, by his count, he decided to set up on his own, determined to elevate American cooking and the style of service to the heights he had experienced at Frédy Girardet’s three-star establishment in Crissier, Switzerland, near Lausanne.

His restaurant, backed by his father, a wealthy entrepreneur, was an overnight sensation. Mr. Trotter’s inventive, refined take on American cuisine, his near fanaticism about cooking fresh from the market and his integration of all aspects of the dining experience into a seamlessly orchestrated whole made every other restaurant in Chicago an also-ran.

“He would dazzle you with his sourcing, way ahead of the locavore movement,” said Phil Vettel, the restaurant critic for The Chicago Tribune. “It sounds quaint now, but he was the first to bring in quinoa, and the first to create an all-vegetable tasting menu.”

In the blink of an eye, the city’s lagging restaurant culture, dominated by tired, old-line French restaurants, took a giant step into the future. A new generation of chefs, many of them now ensconced at the city’s top restaurants, trained under Mr. Trotter and found in him a brilliant, if frightening, teacher.

“Charlie Trotter changed Chicago’s restaurant scene forever and played a leading role in elevating the city to the culinary capital it is today,” Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, said in a statement. “Charlie’s personality mirrored his cooking — bold, inventive and always memorable.”

Charles Trotter was born on Sept. 8, 1959, in Wilmette, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, the son of Robert and Dona-Lee Trotter. His father was the founder of a recruitment firm for computer professionals. Charles attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., and earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin in 1982.

In his junior year at college, he told People magazine in 1995, his roommate challenged him to a multicourse cooking competition. “That’s when I got the bug to cook,” he said.

His first steps were faltering. “I thought cooking out of a cookbook and following a recipe was not unlike doing a math problem: You had to measure everything out; you had to follow the directions meticulously; you couldn’t deviate; otherwise the recipe wouldn’t work,” he told The Chicago Tribune last year. “So I cooked that way for about six months, and then I began to realize: Hey, tomatoes are out of season, so I’m not going to use tomatoes — I’m going to find something else to use. Or, I don’t want so many mushrooms in the dish, so I’m going to cut back on the mushrooms.”

He found work as a busboy at Sinclair’s in Lake Forest, Ill., where the chefs, Norman Van Aken and Ms. Nahabedian, took a chance and allowed him to work in the kitchen. He went on to work at restaurants in San Francisco, studied briefly at the California Culinary Academy and, after reuniting with Mr. Van Aken in Florida, trained at top restaurants in France.

Mr. Trotter’s first two marriages ended in divorce. In addition to his son, he is survived by his third wife, Rochelle Trotter; his mother; two brothers, Thomas and Scott; and a sister, Anne Hinkamp.

At his restaurant, Mr. Trotter dispensed with à la carte menus after a few years and devoted his energy to tasting menus, which gave him more freedom to improvise. He was fond of drawing comparisons to jazz, especially Miles Davis, when explaining his culinary philosophy.

“He liked to claim that he never repeated a dish,” Mr. Vettel said. “Every tasting menu, especially in the early days, was spontaneously created that morning.”

Although friends knew him as extravagantly generous, he was also high-strung and volatile. In the 1997 Julia Roberts film “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” Mr. Trotter appeared as a lightly disguised version of himself, yelling at a cook, “I will kill your whole family if you don’t get this right!” The previous year, he was annoyed to come in second in Chicago magazine’s ranking of the city’s meanest people, just behind Michael Jordan. The top spot, he said, should be his.

Mr. Trotter’s many cookbooks include “Charlie Trotter’s” (1994) and “The Kitchen Sessions With Charlie Trotter” (1999), based on his PBS series. After closing his delicatessen and catering business, Trotter’s to Go, last year, he closed his restaurant on its 25th anniversary, saying that he needed a break. He wanted to travel the world with his wife, he said, and pursue graduate study in philosophy and political theory.

“I just had to put the flag in the sand and say I’ve got to go for this; otherwise I never will,” he told The Chicago Sun-Times last year. “If I don’t go for something while I’m in the prime of my life and I have the means to do it, well, why wouldn’t I?”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: November 8, 2013

A correction in this space on Thursday for the obituary of Charlie Trotter, a chef and restaurateur, misstated his wife’s given name. As the obituary had correctly noted, she is Rochelle Trotter, not Rachel.




Eddie Hausner/The New York Times

The Rev. Eugene S. Callender, second from right in foreground, with Mayor John V. Lindsay, right.


Published: November 7, 2013

  • The Rev. Dr. Eugene S. Callender, a civil rights advocate best known for starting an innovative series of “street academies” for disadvantaged New York City youths that became a model for nontraditional educational programs nationwide, died on Nov. 2 in Manhattan. He was 87.

Eddie Hausner/The New York Times

The Rev. Dr. Eugene S. Callender in his study at the Church of the Master in 1959.

His death was confirmed by Lorena Rostig, a co-author, with George A. Zdravecky, of Dr. Callender’s 2012 memoir, “Nobody Is a Nobody: The Story of a Harlem Ministry Hard at Work to Change America.”

A Presbyterian minister, Dr. Callender was for decades “one of Harlem’s most active leaders,” The New York Times wrote in 1967. The longtime senior minister and chief executive of the Church of the Master, on Morningside Avenue near 122nd Street, he was also a past executive director of the New York Urban League and a former president of the New York Urban Coalition.

Dr. Callender, who preached and lectured throughout the country, also served in the administrations of Mayor John V. Lindsay, for whom he was deputy administrator of the New York City Housing and Development Administration, and Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, for whom he was the director of the New York State Office of the Aging.

A Democrat, Dr. Callender turned down a position as an assistant labor secretary in the administration of President Richard M. Nixon in 1969.

Though Dr. Callender was a Massachusetts native, he had lived and worked in Harlem since the 1950s. He had vowed to live there as a young man, after seeing it for the first time on a visit to New York.

“There was a sea of black faces,” he said in an unpublished 1967 interview with The Times. “ ‘Boy,’ I thought, ‘this must be our land.’ I made up my mind right there that I was going to live in Harlem.”

By the late ’50s, Dr. Callender had established the Addicts Rehabilitation Center, a drug program in Harlem. At the time, addicts were widely considered a marginal population unworthy of much attention, and such programs were rare.

He was later the chairman of the Haryou-Act Community Corporation, a Harlem antipoverty agency.

Dr. Callender, who in the 1960s accompanied the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on civil rights marches in the South, often said he had been concerned with the disenfranchised from the time he was very young.

Eugene St. Clair Callender, the son of immigrants from Barbados, was born in Cambridge, Mass., on Jan. 21, 1926.

His father, a factory worker, and his mother, a domestic, were determined that their children go to college. The way seemed clear for Eugene when he graduated second in his class from the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School: The school’s top three graduates traditionally received scholarships to Harvard.

But when he went to Harvard to apply for his scholarship, he was told that the college had already admitted its quota of Negroes for the year.

“That,” Dr. Callender told The Cambridge Chronicle, a community newspaper, in an interview last year, “was my first act of social injustice.”

He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Boston University and on graduating enrolled in the Westminster Theological Seminary, near Philadelphia.

You’re Eugene Callender!” an astonished administrator exclaimed the day he arrived there. The seminary had not known his race, and he would be its first black student.

Before long, however, as Dr. Callender recalled, the entire student body and faculty had descended in protest on a Philadelphia restaurant that refused to serve him.

After receiving a bachelor of divinity degree from Westminster in 1950, he earned a doctorate in divinity from Knoxville College in Tennessee. He later earned a law degree from New York Law School.

Dr. Callender was the pastor of the Mid-Harlem Community Parish before joining the Church of the Master in 1959. He served with that church for decades and remained a guest pastor there until his retirement in 2010.

In the mid-1960s, under the aegis of the Urban League, Dr. Callender established what became a chain of more than a dozen street academies in depressed New York neighborhoods.

Storefront establishments financed with corporate contributions, the academies enrolled black and Hispanic high school dropouts and inspired similar programs in other cities. In 1975, The Times reported that 600 of New York’s street academy graduates had gone on to college.

Dr. Callender also founded the Harlem Preparatory School, intended to further prepare street academy graduates for a college education.

Dr. Callender, who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, was married and divorced several times. His survivors include a daughter, Renée; a sister, Thelma Burns; a brother; Leland; a grandson; and a great-granddaughter.

As his lectures and interviews made plain, Dr. Callender possessed a well-honed talent for driving a rhetorical point home.

“We still have far to go before we are accepted as citizens on the same basis as others in this nation,” he told an audience of foreign students in New York in 1963. “And if you doubt it,” he added, “try to rent an apartment on the East Side of Manhattan.”




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