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Feeling L.A.

Vic “the Brick”’ Jacobs is ILL. Not “ill,” but Ill, as in black is white and up is down and the Lakers are going to the NBA finals this year because sometimes wishing can make it so. No matter that they have an interior defense that makes the Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash seem like the demon-god offspring of Magic Johnson and Dr. J. Vic “the Brick” believes. It is the flow. It is the oneness. It is coming from the darkness into the light. It is what the downtown hoops dojo demands, and nothing less will do.

“Feeling you, Lakers fans,” he croons in a whisky-smooth New York voice that is weirdly reminiscent of Milton Cross, the late opera announcer. “Feeling you!”

Los Angeles as a sports town is not much different from Los Angeles as a music town, the place where the audience is too hip for the room, where the cool kids stand toward the back with their arms folded across their chests, readier to dissect the performance than to lean into it and feel its power. The city hasn’t had an NFL team in years, and the popular consensus is that this neutrality just gets us better games on TV. The Dodgers could lose 100 games this year and they would still draw 3 million fans happy to eat Dodger Dogs and drink warm beer. The local sports radio guys, who are totally aware that the Los Angeles market is a powerful springboard to nationwide success, tend to be grown-ups about the whole thing, clear-eyed realists for whom actual fandom is in poor taste.

Vic “the Brick” Jacobs, whose primary job is color man for the Loose Cannons broadcasts on AM 570 between noon and 4, is not cool, not cool at all. Except in the sense that he may be the coolest guy in L.A. He wears fur hats that would make a marmot cringe. He sports a porn-star mustache not unlike those worn by the Beastie Boys in the “Sabotage” video, and retro jerseys that would embarrass Snoop Doggy Dogg. He talks about how much he loves his wife, sometimes in Japanese. He weeps when the Lakers lose and rejoices when they win and believes in the inevitability of Phil Jackson’s basketball Zen probably more than the Lakers coach believes it himself — certainly more than do his Cannon-mates Steve Hartman, who is the facts guy, and Mychal Thompson, who used to be a Laker himself. (Jacobs also does the play-by-play of Avengers games without irony, but that’s a different cup of decaffeinated green tea.)

In a city too numb to feel, it sometimes seems as if Vic is the only guy who cares. He is our designated mourner, our conscience, our ultimate homer; a remnant of our preteen selves who cried every time the Celtics snatched away the championship again. And a Lakers game somehow never feels complete until we’ve heard Vic rehashing the good parts on the radio the next day.

Feeling you, Vic. Feeling you.


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