Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht.

There's an old Yiddish saying which is like most old Yiddish sayings, that is, it's worthy of being kept as a frontlet, carved into your desk (if you still have one), digitized as your screensaver, or tattooed uncomfortably on your knuckles if you live in Williamsburg.

It's Mentsch tracht, Gott lacht. Which can be translated as "Man plans, God laughs."

Tomorrow morning I have to cut short my weekly therapy session (also known as my weekly 45 minutes with someone wiser than I) and head down to Wall Street--to the client I work for--for a 2012 planning meeting.

A 2012 planning meeting. For a financial institution.

The stock market could drop 4,000 points.
The Euro could collapse completely.
North Korea could sell a suitcase nuke to the Taliban.
A pizza salesman could become a presidential candidate.
Or worse, a fundamentalist could.

Yet, we must plan.

Plan for what?

A world in which anything can happen at any time.

Years ago I shot a commercial with Joe Pytka. One spot in a package of about a dozen spots. I had never worked with the Orsen Welles of soda pop before and was eagerly anticipating his genius.

I saw it almost immediately, though it took me a while to realize that.

The first thing Pytka did was tear up all the scripts he was to shoot.

I thought he was just being an asshole.

What he was doing was two-fold. And both folds contained genius.

One, the scripts had been fucked by the approval process. It was time now to rewrite them as something better and purer.

And two, from the time we started writing the scripts to the time we were going to shoot them, the changes in the world had rendered them virtually obsolete.

He tore them all up.

The best advertising doesn't come from planning.

It comes from being zeroed in on now. What's important. What's breathing. What hurts. What makes one laugh or cry.

The best advertising does not reflect medicine-chest sterility.

But the vibrancy of the moment.

Ha ha ha.

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