Animations Revive Lost Interviews with David Foster Wallace, Jim Morrison & Dave Brubeck

David Ger­lach left a com­fort­able job work­ing as a TV pro­duc­er to launch Blank on Blank, a mul­ti­me­dia non­prof­it with a sim­ple mis­sion — to curate jour­nal­ists’ for­got­ten inter­views with cul­tur­al icons, and then bring them back to life again, some­times as ani­mat­ed shorts. You can start enjoy­ing the fruit of Blank on Blank’s labors by watch­ing a series of web ani­ma­tions, recent­ly pro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with PBS Dig­i­tal Stu­dios. Above, we’re start­ing you off with a four-minute ani­ma­tion of David Fos­ter Wal­lace reflect­ing on his ear­ly ten­nis days, the per­ils of per­fec­tion­ism, and his ten­den­cy to be a “gram­mar nazi” when teach­ing col­lege stu­dents — some­thing we’ve cov­ered here before. The inter­view orig­i­nal­ly aired on WNY­C’s Leonard Lopate Show in 1996, and you can lis­ten to the con­ver­sa­tion in its entire­ty here.

Next comes some mem­o­rable moments with Jim Mor­ri­son, the great singer-song­writer, who met with Vil­lage Voice writer Howard Smith back in Novem­ber, 1969. Going into the meet­ing, Smith sensed that things would­n’t be easy. He lat­er recalled, “I had a feel­ing that it was going to be a tough inter­view. I just kin­da had a feel­ing that … it was going to be tricky, and I said .… if things get real­ly dif­fi­cult with him, I’m gonna sug­gest that we arm wres­tle.” As you’ll hear, Smith made his great arm-wrestling escape an inevitabil­i­ty when he nee­dled Mor­ri­son, sug­gest­ing that the singer had put on too much weight. You can see how things played out above, or catch the com­plete inter­view here.

Blank on Blank has pro­duced oth­er ani­mat­ed inter­views with Bono, Lar­ry King, and surfer Kel­ly Slater. But we’re going to wind things down with Dave Brubeck recall­ing how Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er sent him to East­ern Europe to fight Com­mu­nism with Jazz. Brubeck relat­ed this sto­ry at the Litch­field Jazz Fes­ti­val in 2008.

If you’re look­ing to rum­mage through a big archive of lost inter­views, I’d encour­age you to spend time with the Blank on Blank pod­cast avail­able on iTunes and rss.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Nazis’ 10 Con­trol-Freak Rules for Jazz Per­form­ers: A Strange List from World War II

Pak­istani Musi­cians Play Amaz­ing Ver­sion of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Clas­sic, “Take Five”

David Fos­ter Wallace’s 1994 Syl­labus: How to Teach Seri­ous Lit­er­a­ture with Light­weight Books

An Uplift­ing Musi­cal Sur­prise for Dave Brubeck in Moscow (1997)

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.