Before you even made it past the cash registers at the entrance of Barnes & Noble in the Edgewood Retail District one would have a pretty good, quick indication this wasn’t your average visit to the bookstore – if for no other reason than the intermittent bursts of Bobby Brown‘s first name.
(If you watched the undeniable trainwreck that was his reality show, “Being Bobby Brown,” then you know this “Baw-beeee” as the one his then-pop icon wife Whitney Houston would greet/summon him with).
Brown was back in the city he and Houston lived for some time (and filmed that reality show) to sign copies of his new autobiography “Every Little Step,” with Pulitzer Prize winner Nick Chiles. It traces the R&B superstar’s climb from bubble gum, Jackson 5-inspired group New Edition to superstar, multiplatinum sex symbol as a solo artist to frequent tabloid headline (after many arrests) to the now more sober, sympathetic figure who’s dealt publicly with the loss of both of his first wife (Houston) and their daughter (22-year-old Bobbi Kristina) following drug abuse.
“Leolah! I love you! And I believe every word you’ve said!”
Yet another Brown fan screaming – directly this time – at Brown’s sister, who has been very vocal (even during Bobbi Kristina’s funeral) about a purported heated division between the Browns and the Houstons. On this particular evening though, it’s all smiles and selfies with the hundred in a line that snakes around at least three aisles of fiction and literature, Ganga books, graphic novels, new teen fantasy and adventure romance.
“Cavaliers are losing right now – 87 to 0!”
That’s Brown himself, yelling from behind the table and clearly having a good time. Breaking with the usual protocol of only autographing books, Brown was signing drawings, concert t-shirts, everything. And whenever requested he came from behind the table to take whatever kind of goofy or a little-too-friendly picture a fan wanted. (Never mind that Game 6 between the Warriors and Cavs wasn’t set to start for another 28 minutes. Again, he was having fun!)
Thirty minutes past the start of the 7 p.m. signing Barnes & Noble was already on its last box of some 250-plus books. Again, breaking from the usual signing, Brown didn’t read something from “Every Little Step” in the beginning. He did a quick interview with Karyn Greer of WGCL-Channel 46, and broke out the Sharpie.
“When I wake up in the morning love…”
That’s Brown again, now serenading each person with some classic Bill Withers as they finally get to his table…
“Then I look at you/And the world’s alright with me/Just one look at you/And I know it’s gonna be/
A lovely daaaaay”
– Sonia Murray, CBS Local