Get It While You Can

Jerry Ragavoy and the ghost of Janis Joplin

"Fair enough," I said. "But doesn't it bother you, just a little, that performances of three of your songs are being sold by the House of Blues as Songs of Janis Joplin?"

"No, not really," he said. "I never have and ever will pay attention to people in marketing. They are offensive in their own right; they don't have to say 'Songs of Janis Joplin' to be more offensive."

This is probably just another way of saying that capitalism may be the best available choice, but it's still an economic, not an aesthetic, system. Or, to put it yet another way, a chain of nightclubs and the economies of scale it implies is American and rational and dead wrong. Ragavoy says he enjoys his anonymity, but what else can he say? In the 343 pages of Friedman's book on Joplin, I cannot find so much as a mention of him. Ditto Erma Franklin and Howard Tate. The index lists "methadone" and "Methedrine," but no "Mimms, Garnet." If this is the best book on the singer, as some have said, what can we expect from Hollywood?

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