I’d decided I needed a long walk, so headed north towards the marina from my apartment in The Tenderloin. About forty minutes later I found myself standing out at the Marina Green, watching the seagulls, wondering just how the hell someone pays for one of those mansion-sized yachts out there in the harbor. Then it hit me. Hit me like a .357 slug in the chest: I was missing a Golden Opportunity to pay homage to one of the greatest TV crime shows ever produced during the 70’s. Dummer than a box of sticks, is what my old man used to say about me. Guess he was right.
I quickly went and snuck my way out onto the spit of land that was part of the West Basin marina, hopping a fence to do so. Heck, you woulda done the same if you knew what I was about to do. It’d gotten under my skin now, and I couldn’t let it go.
Ties. Huge Ties.
Right… the Ties. Ties wider than most time zones.
In “The First Day of Forever,” where Steve is protecting a hooker (played by the darkly sexy Janice Rule) he dons this +4 tie of badness that is maroon (against a dark blue shirt!!!) with yellow polka dots. That tie is legendary, having been known to cause nausea in the viewer. Oh, and there was the one he wore in “A Wrongful Death.” Can you say blinding? 7 inches of STIFF, petrochemical bliss that probably made laboratory mice grow a third eye. Red, diagonal lines set against a deep blue background. I got faint just watching him bolt out of the car and run across the street while he sported that tie. (Hold your stomaches. Here’s an example.)
But why did I come here, to this spot, you ask? I came here because this was where The Ties began. Out there in the bay, just a stone’s throw from the main yacht club building. This was where the old guy jogging on the beach finds Kim Darby’s body floating in the drink during the series pilot, ushering in the “flair” of Inspector Steve Keller, who gave us four, kick-ass seasons of fashion statements more compelling than Cher’s legendary Bob Mackie outfits. Those puppies he slung around his neck were of epic wideness. Maroon. Green. Striped. WOVEN! So hip now, it’s tragic. The perfect fashion foil for the conservative sweater vests and hats of Detective Lieutenant Mike Stone (Karl Malden).
I recently purchased the first two seasons on DVD to revisit the stories and the ties that bind me to that show and the city (I’ve loved S.F. since first visiting it back in ‘75 as a mere lad of ten). The pilot comes from an incredibly brilliant mystery novel by Carolyn Weston entitled Poor, Poor Ophelia. The book originally took place down in Santa Monica, but the producers knew it would work perfectly against the San Francisco backdrop, and moved the setting.
Nothing special about the tie in “Harem.” It was Keller’s “go to” monstrosity: a dark blue woven tie that every time I see it, I want to un-weave it and hang myself from the nearest C&R Clothiers. I just had to mention how totally SICK musician Rick Nelson is in this episode as a flute-playing, murdering pimp. What would Ozzie have said about the underage “Garden Party” Ricky had going on in this episode? One of my favorites, man.
I sat down in the sand at that point, and gazed out at the water. A tall, lovely woman jogged by, and for some reason, I thought back to what considered to be the BEST episode of SOSF, “Mask of Death,” starring John Davidson as a schizophrenic female impersonator torch singer (3rd season, not on DVD yet). Truly the best performance by ANY guest star ever on the show. Can’t remember what tie Keller wore in that one, but that’s okay, as it was ALL about John Davidson talking to himself in the mirror, dressed to kill like some psychopathic Carol Channing.
I sat and watched the water, the sun glinting off the waves, blinding me as bad as the tie Keller wore in “For the Love of God,” a BRIGHT red affair with darker red diamonds and these glaring yellow (yellow!) centers which made me scream “For the love of GOD!” at the screen. How much I missed the show. Missed that time. No, I wouldn’t have worn those mythic monsters of fashion mayhem Keller wore, but you know… I sure as hell coulda rocked Malden’s button down shirts and V-neck sweaters.
Maybe I’d find the people responsible for the male wardrobe on the show. If they’d passed, maybe I’d find their graves.
Maybe I’d lay an 8 inch-wide, red, woven tie on each one. Maybe.
Robert Lewis grew up under the pier at Venice Beach, CA. There, by firelight, he would entertain the stray dogs with weird and wonderful tales. He’s still telling stories, but now he lives in a place with walls, a roof, and cases of red wine. Crime fiction and blues guitar are his things. He blogs over at NeedleCity, and twits sporadically and nonsensically as @robertklewis.