JERZY PLATES (The Big Cool Long Hard Hand) was born near Leipzig in 1944, the son of a Lutheran clergyman. He attended the famous Pforta School, went to university at Bonn and at only twenty-four was appointed to the chair of Classical Philology at Basel University. He is currently at work on the tender story of a young girl's coming of age in rural Winnepeg for Miramax Films. RIFF DIXON (Dead Men Don't Tan) Dixon's pen became his axe when he realized the limited opportunities open to a bop-inflected swing tenor saxophonist. He writes it the way he'd play it. He earned his nickname imagining himself in the late 50's Ellington reed section. He still thinks for pleasure. Whatever his actual activities, his main influence is Paul Gonsalves. PAOLO DIHN (Behind Enemy Lines) fervently believes the connection between writer and reader is an ethereal one that is only harmed by the intrusion of egotistic details of "personality and profile". For this reason he prefers to remain merely a name. Hiding from the limelight comes naturally to him since the tender age of seven when that horrific train accident left him at the mercy of the townschildren who proclaimed him "King of the Toadstool Faces" and pelted him with pennies kneaded into cow's dung, even up to his own door, which his mother, that vitriolic bastion of lower middle class morality, would not open as a lesson in civics. MITZI GAYNOR (Away In A Manger) is not the real name of the writer. Rather it is the name of the person the writer most admires. Mitzi Gaynor stands for peppiness and love. So does the writer. On most days, in fact, the writer can be found working the street near the All American Hamburger on Sunset Boulevard in L.A. When she is not on the street, she is in the All American writing to Mitzi, of Mitzi, or in Mitzi's name. JACK HAMMER (Festering Backwater) Born in a shallow depression outside Mussel Shoals, Alabama, Jack Hammer was early deprived and soon depraved. A member of the puffin family, his legs are set far back on his body, making him clumsy on land, where he seldom goes except to nest. Previously Hammer was, among less congenial incarnations, khedive of Egypt (1879-92, acceded to office when the Pasha was deposed); and King of Poland (1697-1733). He commanded the Imperial Army against the Turks (1693) but was soundly drubbed. Also breeds oysters. JOE DON WILLIAMS (Bug City) Joe Don's father, a high schoolteacher, once demanded he throw half of his comic books away. Joe Don carefully separated them into two piles, the good and the bad. When he came home from school the next day, Joe Don's father told him he had already thrown his comics in the trash, saving him the trouble. "Which pile?" Joe Don asked. His father had thrown away what would be today several thousand dollars worth of the greatest comics ever printed -- Weird Science , the first Mad , the original Vault of Horror , etc., -- and left Joe Don with his worthless copies of Archie Annual and Little Lulu . In retaliation, Joe Don became a would-be science-fiction writer; or, in something like the words of Kurt Vonnegut, a kid who spent too much time building plastic model airplanes and beating off. CECIL COURT COPELAND (Two Bodies) has moved to the mountains in an effort to be at one with nature. It took an entire spring and summer, but he has built himself a small cabin. Very small. He has visitors, but they usually have four legs. His main contact with humans is a correspondence with Gilberto Torres, a Mexican farmer living on the outskirts of Guernevaca. Their letters to each other discuss such pertinent topics as perennial corn, mathematics (with an emphasis on long division) and the shelf life of unrequited love. Cecil considers Gilberto to be a mentor, if not a true wise man of the twentieth century. Gilberto considers Cecil to be well meaning, but a little confused. FRANCESCA PIATEK (Possessed By A Demon, Part the Second) grew up in an orgone energy accumulator at the edge of the known world. Soon she moved to Iowa City, Iowa, and then on to the small country of Bhutan where she was reunited with her mother, a Dharma Dancer in the hills of Thimphu. Following a small misunderstanding with government officials over a '66 Ford Mustang, Ms. Piatek was granted an exit visa if she promised never to return. After graduating in medicine from the University of Frankfurt am Main she bartended in Prague for several years, where she completed her much discussed but poorly understood treatise, "On Bio-Psychiatric Theory and the Impossibility of Phenomenological Cul-de-sac". She presently works in a fish cannery in Oregon. POLSKI RHUMBA (the Handbag) was raised in the High Tatras Mountains near Temnosmrecinsk· dolina (The Valley of Dark Firs) where her father took refuge from academic attack and encroaching political pressure to conform to a religion he considered a part of The New Industrialism. Well-known for their special interpretation of the polka and waltz, Polski and her father were allowed to brew beer with the local monks and take part in their special studies on the poisonous daphne, a bush responsible for the deaths of many unsuspecting hikers. Polski believes the most important thing in life is a big bathtub, preferably old and gilded. She has a gold mirror (given to her by Father Smokovic) that hangs at the foot of her bathtub wherein she contemplates the Greatest Mystery of Life: The Body. She spends her time traveling with her cat Toisie between their 3 residences in Rouen, La Pie de la Cuesta, and Pimlico. Toisie has won numerous awards in Rouen for the coveted prize of 'Cat Most Able To Sound Like Joan of Arc's Cat'. ROAN BEECHLER (bLACK pORN) Little is known about Roan beyond the communiqués he posts for our rag. Educated as a mortician, Roan had a severe break from this lifestyle roughly five years ago and has since only come out briefly to send us his stories from a disconnected pay phone adjacent to a Mexican cemetery. He claims to be fifty five. Divorced. Father of twin boys Cecil and Artemis who work as high paid entertainment lawyers for which Roan's work is dedicated. Severely scarred about the face and neck from an embalming fluid explosion, Roan is also missing four fingers on his left hand. He makes money, so he tells us, playing a one handed flamenco guitar in Mexican whorehouses. A devout worshipper of Judaism, Roan has also been linked to the followers of Juan Marco Sanchez the Mad Jew of Istanbul. Those who have actually seen Roan, say he and Juan share an odd resemblance, and are rarely seen together. More than this is unknown. Like so many young girls, BENEITHA TRAYNE (Introductory remarks for the Chairman of the Committee) once dreamed of a glamorous and exotic career as a Balinese firewalker. But alas! Twas not to be. Coming home one night from the mall after a long day of wrapping acrylic sheets around matronly fingernails, Beaneitha was captured by a crew of Danish seamen and locked in a small closet next to the ships engine room. She remembers, dimly, that outside the sky is sometimes blue and that flying creatures called birds make lovely noises in the spring. When not entertaining gentlemen callers in groups of two and three, Beaneitha keeps her spirits high by scribbling notes on the walls with the back of an earring, mostly political commentary and random free verse. TAGG N. DING and BHAGWAN JONES (Double Nickel Stories) Editor's note: A professor of cyptic languages at a local institute of higher agony sent us the following explanitory note along with the accompanying brief tales.. "These came into my possession in a rather strange way. I was sitting in my office, reading through my Bible as I am wont to do on an afternoon, when into my office burst this strange little man with moustache and bridle whip who called himself Tagg N. Ding. Beside him stood an even littler fellow whom Mr. Ding introduced as his "aide-de-camp," a Mr. Bhagwan Jones. Although Mr. Ding took full credit for the Double Nickel stories he handed me, it became evident to me as I listened to their tale that Mr. Jones was deserving of the lion's share of the credit if any credit was due either of them. I found this proposition a bit problematic because it became evident to me that these fellows had not written the stories appearing on the sheet of paper under their names but had merely "found" them. Mr. Jones had discovered the stories in slips of paper taped the back of abandoned fifty-five MPH highway signs. Hence the name, they explained to me at length, of "Double Nickel Stories." I pass these along to you not in the belief that they have any literary merit but merely as oddities that a man of your discriminating taste might find curious. Toss them aside, if you choose. Or publish them, if that perverse nature of yours gets the better of you." STEVE STILSON (Live to Work, Work to Live) was found under a rock in an abandoned sprout mine in the north of the U.K. Drifting to different foster parents every week, he eventually settled in with a family of midgets who toured the country with their amazing dancing ferret show. He finished school, and started his working life writing scripts for scandinavian porn movies. His career has included many jobs including, Spaghetti farmer and World famous hypnotist. He is now 104 years old, and accredits his long life to eating beans and unnatural acts with woodland creatures.