And Now a Word From the Billboard 200, as of May 24, 1997 No. 1: Spice Girls, Spice. Hot Shot Debut: Hanson, Middle of Nowhere. Greatest Gainer: Yanni, In the Mirror. Pacesetter: the Evita soundtrack. Heatseeker Impacts: Bob Carlisle's Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) at 95, and Third Eye Blind's eponymous album at 96. You know, Cobain should have stuck it out. Eventually, he would have had something to rally against again. (M.B.)

Cake Refrosted In early April, Cake's bass player, Victor Damiani, said adieu, for reasons not yet disclosed. This left the boys one piston short for two major upcoming tours -- the U.S. leg of the No Doubt tour and an extensive headlining tour in Europe. Thankfully, Gabe Nelson, Cake's original bass player from '92 to '93, stepped in to fill the spot nicely. So far so good. When the band returns in June, we'll see if Damiani plans to go the distance. (S.T.)

Phoner Watch " 'You're killing me,' says Toni Braxton breathily when I tell her I want to talk about sex. A heartbeat later, though, the shyness falls away and she plunges in. 'I was twenty years old when I lost my virginity,' Toni purrs into the telephone. It's easy for me to imagine her lying on soft sheets in her designer dollhouse bedroom, clad in lingerie, gently stroking the giant teddy bear next to her queen-size bed. With the lights dimmed and scented candles burning on the dresser, she giggles softly, seductively, her doe eyes reflecting the full moon's glow outside her window. 'I can't tell you how,' she teases, her voice sweet as cotton-candy clouds. 'My father might be reading this.' " (From the opening paragraph of a Toni Braxton profile by Michael A. Gonzales, replete with nipple shots, in the June/July issue of Vibe.)

Can You Say Shibboleth? The DNA's new Sunday morning after-hours club, "Born Again," has deviated from the others by adopting a "no tweakers" policy (i.e., no speed users). Keeping away people who insist upon relaying an unsolicited account of their entire life without a pause for breath is usually highly desired by most people in a social setting; yet throwing open a club's doors at the break of dawn (6 a.m.) with house music pumping out remains the siren song of the tweaker. Just how is the DNA going to weed out those partaking of the devil's dandruff, anyhow? Does this mean that trippers, stoners, and paint huffers are greeted with hugs and coffee? The club-savvy folks at the DNA must devise some sort of test to flush out the wily tweaker, most likely utilizing the speed freak's archnemesis: food. Riff Raff recommends the following: The doorman requires each potential patron to eat a few crackers prior to entry. Those who ask for seconds are surely stoners, and would be allowed passage. Those who ask why the crackers are moving are just trippin', so they'd be OK too. Huffers would probably just smash the crackers up against their chins, and pretend to chew; at any rate, welcome, huffers. Beware, however, those who turn their noses up at the Saltines, for they can only be tweakers. (R.A.)

Confidential to Boz Scaggs Thanks for the gesture, you good sport, but I'm afraid I'm spoken for during those "nites." (M.B.)

Sullivan Subs for Selvin Word has it that while pop-music critic Joel Selvin is on vacation leave from the Chronicle to work on a biography of Sly Stone, young gun James Sullivan will be filling in through the month of June. Sullivan, 31, is originally from Boston but has been free-lancing in the Bay Area for three years, contributing to SFWeekly and the Chron, as well as magazines like Option, Request, and Pulse. This would be the longest break Selvin has taken since Michael Snyder left in 1995. Perhaps long enough for Sullivan -- one of the talented voices who have helped resuscitate the Datebook over the last year -- to really make a difference. Sure, they still may review Tina Turner and the like, but at least it will be Sullivan doing the review. (S.T.)

The Young and the X-less, Part 9 Riff Raff now concludes its series of excerpts from Douglas Rushkoff's "bleeding-edge" jargon-naut, The Ecstasy Club, due out soon. We have received little reward -- and have had even less permission -- in sharing tidbits from this story "destined to be a cult classic," except the satisfaction in knowing that we have given regular readers of Riff Raff a precious hipster's advantage. You, unlike most of the reading population, have tasted fresh food indeed. Hell, not even the novel's publicists seemed wise to the fact that SF Weekly was ripping the living drumsticks off their prize goose, and keeping wise is their fucking job. (Recently, a publicist asked a member of the Riff Raff staff if he thought we'd eventually give the book some ink. A veritable arterial gusher of the black stuff has already flowed here.) In parting, Riff Raff offers you the greatest advantage of all: a glimpse at the book's secret surprise ending. Clench Rushkoff's tortured passages tight to your breast, 'cause come June 4, The Ecstasy Club belongs to the world. To paraphrase novelist and all-around humble guy Russell Banks, "Now go, my work, and destroy the world as it is." (M.B.)

Lauren had the baby in a hospital in Cincinnati. Her mother drove in from Cleveland to help out. It was just like the birth of any baby, I guess. Lauren panted like they showed us, and it was a whole lot of work until the baby's shoulders pushed through her birth canal, which expanded tenfold to release our evolutionary successor.

And as Lauren's mom held our tiny infant in her loving arms, I couldn't help but notice that his head was bigger than normal.

Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Michael Batty (M.B.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to mbatty@sfweekly.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.

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