Posted: Dec 28, 2003 2:08 pm
It is with sadness that I report the demise of legendary Jackson, Mississippi character and Martin's bartender Beaux Miller. For any of y'all who have played Martin's in the last few years, I'm sure you'll remember Beaux's great stumbling drunk antics, incredibly stiff drinks, and random bar-tab tabulations (ours always seemed to be $43.50 regardless of how much we drank). The last time the Preacher's Kids played there I ordered a shot of tequila from him and he poured me a full water-glass full of tequila. What a gent. Later that night he sat on Van's head and passed out. He will be missed. The following is a short obit from www.jacksonfreepress.com :
Do Not Disturb
by Scott Morris
Dec. 22, 2003
I first met Beaux Miller in 1996 at Fenian’s. How he struck me there behind the bar, pouring, smoking, chuckling, angry one minute, ebullient the next, gathering a customer in for a joke, a bracelet jangling against a poised bottle of Beam, a plaque with his name on the wall: not Bo, as in a pet or frat brother, but BEAUX, an event.
He seemed to have been fashioned from an old-fashioned mold. Most Americans now are either instances of ash and putty or gym-bound boy and girl dolls with dollops of brittle hair and false skin. We stare at the sepia-toned photographs of earlier generations and marvel at people with actual features. Beaux was an entire catalogue of features, an elf of a cowboy sprung loose from another time. He was slight, wiry and angular, with thinning, shoulder-length hair. He wore tight Wranglers, likely from the teen racks, for his waist could not have been much more than 20 inches around. He had prominent belt-buckles and boots and Western shirts.
His face was weathered, and often his demeanor brought to mind an earned, doggish sadness that on some nights, when the bar went quiet, broke my heart with strange wonder. But then his eyes would radiate, and his wrinkles would arch and bounce, and he’d be smiling, lifting burdens. And the voice, the famous voice: A train yard of boisterous gravel! “Hey, young blood, get over here!” “Uncle Bob, listen to what me and the Colonel did last night.” “All right, Super Dave!” He’d tap your arm, very primly, then tuck his head and blink.
When I had my first novel published in the spring of 2000, he showed up at Lemuria with a jumbo Styrofoam cup of vodka and grapefruit juice and a lit cigarette. Someone dutifully told him this was not allowed, but the recommendation didn’t take. He bought seven or eight of my books, and was so proud of me that I felt deeply undeserving. That night at Fenian’s, after a late reading, I was answering questions when Beaux appeared in the back of the room. He had concluded the audience was being disrespectful. Annoyed, he made his way forward and took the microphone from me.
“I’ve got the answer to all y’all’s questions,” he growled. He turned around and pulled his Wranglers down to his ankles. The effect was shock and awe. Beaux, though perhaps 5’5’’ and 120 pounds, was in other regards an anatomical wonder. Indeed, all the questions had been answered. What could one have possibly asked after that? He had just wanted me to know that no one was going to mess with me on his watch.
There are so many stories, so many friends who knew him far longer than I did, lucky souls. A good part of my life in Jackson was sitting around telling stories about Beaux. I will always remember how Beaux would torment Bob Kelly, threatening to slip him a Viagra and lock him in a room at the old Sun-N-Sand motel with a group of insatiable women, and how Wade would shake his head whenever Beaux fell asleep at Martin’s. “We need to get him a blanket that says Do Not Disturb,” Wade once told me.
In “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” T.S. Eliot grimly describes modern man as measuring out his life with coffee spoons. Beaux Miller poured freely. He was no company man. He carried a gun, a knife, and had a lion-skin rug with a lion’s head attached to it. He lived in the Sun-N-Sand for years, tending bars and aching hearts all over Jackson. He accepted all comers. He was a humble master of empathy, a quality that has almost vanished from the human race. Toward the end, he would wear the spectacles of an intellectual, staring out thoughtfully. There were many nights when I would walk in to Martin’s and see him and suddenly the great, clutching pain that I’d brought with me would break apart and fall at my feet. He called me Scotty.
He met his end with a cigarette in his mouth, having fallen asleep in the apartment on Congress Street that he rented from Thomas Morrison. I cannot be romantic about it—I know he did not want to go. But, by god, I can guarantee he was ready, and that he will be missed.
A memorial service for Beaux Miller is planned for Sunday, Jan 11, at 6 p.m. at Martin’s Tavern. Call 354-9712 for details.