Vic Jacobs stood in the elevator of a Burbank radio station when the doors opened and in walked four salespeople. Immediately, they shed their sales personas and morphed into fans, for this was Vic “The Brick” Jacobs standing before them.
They bumped fists and shouted, “Feelin’ you!” — Jacobs’ catchphrase. The Brick responded in kind.
Everywhere he goes, Jacobs elicits this sort of reaction. It helps that he’s hard to miss, often carrying bamboo and wearing a poncho, fur coat, fur hat and white sunglasses to go with his long brown hair and beard. (On this recent day, though, Jacobs offered a change-up, wearing a black leather hat, a dragon necklace and a Dodgers “Arriba Azul” (“Go Blue” in Spanish) T-shirt featuring his personal logo — his fur hat-topped head).
“We always say, ‘Walt Disney has Mickey Mouse. We have Vic The Brick,’” said Dave Weiss, Fox Sports Radio Network director of marketing and promotions. “He’s our mascot.”
Jacobs can be found at sporting venues around Los Angeles and Orange counties. He’s been on TV. He’s interviewed some of the biggest names in the sports world: Kobe Bryant, Manny Ramirez, Yasiel Puig. He was one-third of the show “Loose Cannons” on national Fox Sports Radio. During the Chabad Telethon in L.A., he romped with the dancing rabbis and rocked out with his band, Meshugenahs With Attitude.
In some ways, this is Vic The Brick’s world; we’re just living in it. He’s Don King without the rap sheet. Every sentence is longer than needed, and most require adjectives.
“I try to bring an element of love and tranquility into my writing,” Jacobs said of his flavorful writing style. “That’s why I’m very sensitive to stimuli around me, to the ciudad, to the city, why I throw out a lot of Español. I’ve been doing that for the last 20 years into my reports. Español, Yiddish, language that comes into play — a little Japanese, a little Korean, little tidbits of everything that’s touched me, I try to put in my writings.”
On the Jewish texts currently in his bookcase, Jacobs said, “I’ve quotes from the great Jewish sages: Moses, Woody Allen, Groucho [Marx]. These are sages. Just because they’re in an entertainment format doesn’t mean they’re not sages or great prophets. Mel Brooks to me is one of the great sages of our time and space. Never met him. Love him. Mel would get it. Mel is the essence of ‘Feelin’ you.’ But these great Jewish entertainers are prophets and sages. Allen Ginsberg, even though he was a poet, was a sage.”
“Feelin’ you” is not just a catchphrase, Jacobs insists, it’s “an insane, blissful buzzword for me.” And only Vic The Brick can liken throwing a foam brick at the camera (how he got his nickname) to Ginsberg’s seminal poem “Howl,” even if his facts aren’t spot-on: “That is me reaching into my sports soul and able to howl as Allen Ginsberg howled at the City Lights bookstore.”
It’s all shtick. Even Jacobs acknowledges it’s shtick. But Vic The Brick says shtick is a good thing.
“Shtick is really your life blood,” he said. “Everyone’s got a shtick. Every shtick is different. But shtick is a very positive thing, sort of a flow of energy. People have always connotated it negatively, like it’s fake or something. No, shtick is real. Shtick is you. You are shtick. Emptiness is form. Form is emptiness.”
Beneath the wacky phrases and unusual attire is a real journalist. Jacobs, 61, graduated from Cornell with a communication arts degree. He’s had stints doing television and/or radio in Guam; Austin, Texas; Fresno and Phoenix. Among his claims to fame is being the first to talk about the Shaq-Kobe feud.
“At the end of the day, we’re a source of news and information, and he has to have credibility, and that’s the fine line,” Weiss said. “Vic can be Vic ‘The Brick’ Jacobs. At some point, he has to be Vic Jacobs on the air, so if there’s a breaking story, he has to have credibility to him, and if he didn’t have credibility, then he wouldn’t be on a station like this.”
Weiss credits Jacobs with evolving with the sports-entertainment industry. For Jacobs, the evolution started with playing stickball in Queens, N.Y., where he became a bar mitzvah. He traveled to Houston in 1973 for the Millennium peace festival and the teachings of then-15-year-old Guru Maharaj Ji, and followed it up with a five-year odyssey to Polynesia, Micronesia, Melanesia, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Burma and Guam; the latter is where he began his broadcasting career in 1979.
“I’ve traveled the world, five years overseas in the original [Vic The Brick] journey of love, circa 1976-81, when I traveled the world backpacking … where I was really able to tap into my inner nature, where I really had to go into the rest of the planet, not just where I was living in New York,” he said. “There was an insane global experience for me. I had to get one with the people, one with the community, one with the globe. That was my mission. That was my inner drive. It was calling me.”
He said he was especially touched in Calcutta, India, while looking into a young girl’s eyes.
“Eyes are the mirror of the soul, and despite them living in these insane conditions, they looked at me with this insane joy, this almost look of bliss, and I’m looking around and I’m seeing her and I’m seeing everything else and I’m going: ‘Wow, this is what it’s about. This is what it’s all about. I found it. Eureka. L’Chayim.’ ”
Although he doesn’t consider himself polarizing, Jacobs knows others have differing opinions about his unique style. KABC-TV sports anchor Rob Fukuzaki has cheered him: “Everyone in Los Angeles is familiar with Vic The Brick, and he’s a great guy. I just love Vic The Brick.” Others, such as the Elitist Jerk Sports blog, have been less kind: “Jacobs makes Dick Vitale sound like Walter Cronkite. There shouldn’t be a place in the world for that.”
But what’s more important, according to Fox Sports Radio host Kevin Figgers, who hopes to co-host a show with Jacobs called “The Brother and the Beard” (Figgers is African-American), is that he’s completely authentic.
“Nobody thinks anybody’s like that. Vic is 100 percent this way all the time,” Figgers said. “A lot of people in this industry, they go on the air and they’re different off the air. Vic is 100 percent the same person on the air as he is off the air, and that’s one thing I love about him.”