Sign up for our free newsletter

Free D.C. news, delivered to your inbox daily.

“I’ve spent more time in the closet than any other straight man in San Francisco,” writes Willie Brown, “but that’s just to choose my wardrobe.” The dapper former mayor of the City by the Bay and the longtime speaker of the California Assembly certainly spends an inordinate amount of time talking about Brioni suits in his new memoir, Basic Brown: My Life and Our Times, but he also goes into great depth about the art and practice of politics—especially the big-city vote-trading glad-handing sort. His rags-to-riches story of growing up in remote Mineola, Texas, then coming of age in the Civil Rights era to become a nationally known politician certainly evokes the story of a familiar D.C. pol. Indeed, Brown shares a number of vices with Marion Barry—women and vanity, for certain—but Brown explains thoroughly and convincingly how he never let his weaknesses interfere with keeping “the public interest paramount.” For the D.C. reader, Basic Brown’s a reminder of just what a more disciplined Barry could have accomplished. For everyone else, just check out Chapter 5: “The Power of Clothes: Don’t Pull a Dukakis.” Brown discusses and signs copies of his work at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at the Sumner School Museum & Archives, 1201 17th St. NW. Free. (202) 442-6060.