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What makes 'The Brick' tick
What makes 'The Brick' tick
By Tom Hoffarth
A quiet booth at the Original Bob's Big Boy in Burbank is as good a place as any for Vic "The Brick" Jacobs, another Southern California original, to try to explain himself.
He produces several books from his plastic grocery bag and puts them on the table next to his cup of Starbucks. Miyamoto Musashi's "The Book of Five Rings," is something he once recommended to Phil Jackson, but the former Lakers coach said he had already absorbed its teachings. Another, Bushido's "The Warrior Code," which brings the message of wisdom, benevolence and courage, is what Jacobs says he lives by.
He pulls out the day's newspaper sports section with notes scribbled in every available space, so as not to forget to mention how he's benefited from the philosophy of Mu, from eating Irish oatmeal and drinking Yeracheffe Ethiopian coffee, and from meditations that have come from his Zen garden at home, especially from asuikinkutsu, which is a fountain made of bamboo that recreates the sound of the koto, an ancient Japanese instrument.
He talks more about his amazing wife, Yuko Sakamoto; about a friend who owns an antique furniture store in Lawndale and lately has become a spiritual brother, and about his actual sister, Pat, back in New York, who supplies him with many of his wild apparel, including a Laker purple-and-gold mink headdress.
He finally pauses.
"I'm a simple man," says Jacobs, wearing a black T-shirt and a white Japanese hat that could be mistaken for a lampshade, none of which seems to draw any attention from the other customers in the restaurant. "When I'm hungry I eat. When I'm thirsty, I drink. I breathe. I sleep."
And when he's on the air ... eee-yikes .
After almost two decades as a TV sportscaster and radio personality in Los Angeles, Jacobs refuses to be obsolete. The most inventive and metaphoric broadcasters continue to move, as he often says, from darkness to light, thriving in a city that still hasn't decided whether to embrace or dismiss him.
His afternoon sports updates on AM-1150/690 are a cacophony of English, Spanish, Yiddish, Esperanto and sometimes Martian -- just a reflection, he says, of the city's melting pot of cultures. The scores and facts are in there somewhere between well-crafted opinions about what's going on with L.A. sports teams and athletes.
To the shagrin of the old-school journalists in town, he'll defend the actions of a Kobe Bryant or Milton Bradley to the point of sounding like a wounded fan.
But all of that, he insists, isn't shtick. And he knows shtick.
Jacobs admits when he arrived at Channel 13 in the summer of 1988, the loud lounge jackets, tuxedo shirts, bolo ties and spiked hair he wore while throwing a foam brick at the TV cameras was fabricated info-tainment. The outlandish things he did with farm animals and chain saws in other markets like as Roswell, N.M., Austin, Texas and Fresno -- which earned him national attention when Sports Illustrated did a story on his antics -- was purely to draw attention.
He was in many ways ahead of the curve, concocting a sports-and-entertainment cocktail for the masses that was used to drown out the homogenized sportscasters of that time.
"America's kids have gotten so sophisticated you can't just give 'em the score anymore or they'll tune out," Jacobs said in the SI story that appeared in 1987 and holds true today. "Most sportscasters are still in the '50s and '60s, uptight with the polyester, don't get emotionally involved. Me, I can't even explain what I'm doing.' "
Still, Jacobs lasted only two years at Channel 13 after focus groups hired by the station decided he was too outlandish even for their tastes. He moved to radio, working nine years as one of Rick Dees' morning sidekicks on KIIS-FM. When the parent company started all-sports 1150-AM in March of '97, Jacobs was asked to do a three-hour sports-talk show in the afternoon sandwiched between Jim Rome and Joe McDonnell. That lasted two years before station management changed again, and he was positioned to be in the news update chair.
Having worked his way back into the mix with Steve Hartman and Mychal Thompson on the afternoon "Loose Cannons" sports-talk show, in addition to update duties, Jacobs is like the downtown landmark that remains standing despite all the redevelopment.
But then, where else but in Los Angeles could someone as esoteric or exaggerated as Jacobs, who doesn't apologize for being an unabashed homer, survive after all these years?
"I admit, I used to be the most outrageous sportscaster in America, but all that stuff in the past was shtick," says Jacobs, a bit squeamish about revealing his actual age, but based on a little research, we'll call it early 50s.
"This is the evolution. Now, it's harmony and truth. The darma, the karma, the whole thing. I understand (some may think this is still shtick), but this is my life."
Maybe more than most in his field, Jacobs epitomizes the L.A. transplant culture. A product of Hungarian parents, a native of Queens, a graduate of Cornell, a practitioner of both the Jewish faith and Far East philosophy, he attributes much of his mental makeup to the five years backpacking through Micronesia to find himself before starting a broadcasting career in Guam in the late '70s. During his journey, he said, he went five years without even watching TV, making him pure to the medium when he returned to put his degree to some use.
"Here, my style is embraced by the most liberated, free pocket on the planet," says Jacobs. "We embrace every lifestyle, culture, religion, color, philosophy. This wouldn't play in Peoria. But Los Angeles is a mecca for fresh ideas, and that's why I'm still here. I can still throw it down."
Those who have worked with him say he's the ultimate team player, never complaining, a superb writer whose talents are somewhat masked by his persona.
Today, as it was back then, there is no clear way to sum up what makes "The Brick" tick. Unless you ask him to do it.
"I'm the king of mishigas," says Jacobs, referring to the Yiddish word that refers to craziness or mayhem. "All the chaos is bouncing off me and I try to forge some clarity from it."
So that should clear everything up.
RE:What makes 'The Brick' tick
No, JT the Brick is a Jim Rome wannabe...basically stole Rome's stuff (was a regular caller to Rome's show before Rome went national) and went to Vegas and got himself a radio gig. This guy is undescribable. If you live in So Cal check out AM690 or 1150 in the middle of the day and you will get a taste (one that you will want to spit out). If you are not in So Cal, then in this particular case, consider yourself lucky...
RE:What makes 'The Brick' tick
I know Vic from Queens.He actually worked with me for a couple of days before starting his sports carreer in Guam.He is a very nice guy who knows his role as a character and does not take himself too seriously.Was a pretty decent hoopster at austin street playground in forest hills and was liked by everyone.I'm glad he keeps on ticken