Is a shot at a million bucks worth a trip to South Bend? The Million Dollar Hole-in-One Golf Contest, which benefits the city's Saint Joseph's Care Foundation, a service organization for elderly, mentally handicapped, and chronically disabled people, starts today and goes through Sunday. Qualification rounds start at 7 AM today and Saturday at six golf courses around South Bend. You can buy as many balls as you'd like at $1 a ball, and then take a shot at a 90-yard qualifying hole; the 20 golfers who come closest to the holes get to take one shot at the 150-yard (135 yards for women) million-dollar shoot-out hole on Sunday. Anyone who makes a hole in one splits a million bucks with the hospital. Where does the money come from? Turns out the whole deal is underwritten by an insurer, and Saint Joseph's claims that even in the unlikely event that all 20 finalists hit holes in one, each will get their prize. The shoot-out round on Sunday is at 1 PM at the seventh hole of the west course of the Knollwood Country Club, 16633 Baywood Lane in Granger, just outside of South Bend. For directions or details on how to enter, call 219-232-2121.
Last year at this time you could have seen a surreal sight--more than 7,000 people standing on the banks of the Chicago River, cheering on a flotilla of rubber ducks. Mass infantile regression? No, just the first annual Greater Chicago Duck Race, designed to raise cash for CAUSES (the acronym for Illinois Masonic Medical Center's child abuse unit), the WGN Children's Fund, and the Hull House Association. You buy as many contestants as you want at five bucks a duck; the organizers will dump the rubber quackers off the Michigan Avenue Bridge at 12:30. The finish line is outside the Sun-Times Building; winning ducks earn their sponsors a variety of ultra-fabulous prizes, among them trips to Italy, Puerto Rico, and D.C. and tickets to Bozo. Prerace fun starts at 10:30 in Wrigley Plaza; you can adopt ducks up until the starting gun. Call 348-3825 for details.
Time again for the Newberry Library Book Fair; zillions of books donated over the year are up for grabs at the sale, which runs 10 to 5 today and noon to 5 tomorrow. The library's at 60 W. Walton; admission is free. Call 943-9090 for more info.
Just how Bucktown got its name is debatable, but the prevalence of Polish goat farmers there (males are called "bucks"--the goats, not the farmers) in the 1830s had at least something to do with it. The Bucktown Arts Fest in Holstein Park celebrates both the area and its artists with two days of exhibits, kid stuff, food, music, and performance. Highlights include free shows in the park's field house by the Talisman Theatre (Personality, 1 PM) and the Curious Theatre Branch (Kings-X Tyrannosaurus Rex Constantinople, 3:30) today and more on Sunday; readings from Dr. Seuss by the Synergy Theatre at 1 today in the park's shady grove; and music from the samba group Da Cor Do on the park stage at 5 tomorrow. There's lots more too. The fair runs 11 to 8 today, 11 to 6 tomorrow. Holstein Park is at Lyndale and Oakley in Bucktown; call 772-6253 or 276-4036 for more information.
How do you describe the San Francisco rock 'n' roll band Caroliner Rainbow Horsemeat Selling Roses? Here's suspiciously named 'zine writer Seymour Glass giving it a shot: "There's neon, wigs, dayglo paint and an indescribable library of characters depicted via prop or costume and one shouldn't drive home if one can tell the difference between what's mythical, what's fabricated, and what's the product of imagination ravaged by god knows what. At first Caroliner sound completely shattered, like no one knows what the fuck they're doing, like no hope of anyone EVER trying to do anything, like how fast can you find the keys to the car? Then the vocals start bouncing from a low that could be a drunken barber at 16 rpm to a high that belongs in loudspeakers outside helicopters in Apocalypse Now. Once you get used to it, it's easier to fathom." Thanks, Seymour. The Caroliners play at Club Lower Links, 954 W. Newport, at 8:30 tonight. Cover is $6. Call 248-5238.
"On ne nait pas femme; on le devient," said Simone de Beauvoir. Women's Equality Day celebrates neither being born nor becoming a woman but women's achieving the right to vote 71 years ago today. At noon in the State of Illinois Building's assembly hall--one floor down from street level at 100 W. Randolph--the 26th Amendment will be celebrated in a program hosted by WBBM's Linda MacLennan. Guests include Les Miz's Cindi Page, financial analyst Terry Savage, jazz singer Geraldine de Haas, Today's Chicago Woman publisher Sherren Leigh, and Carole Gutierrez and Denise La Grassa from the musical Sylvia's Real Good Advice. There's also a raffle of some cellular phones and tix to the plays. It's all free. Call 814-6660 for details.
You can catch a glimpse of certain local celebrities behind bars by staking out the lobby of 444 N. Michigan today. The bars in question aren't exactly real jail bars; they're part of a fund-raiser for the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation. "Cops" will be out today and the next two days arresting certain celebs, politicos, and businesspeople and taking them to 444 N. Michigan, where they're "booked," given jailbird threads, and made to stay till they cough up "bail." Sounds like fun, and might be even better if the "cops" used "dogs" that would track their "prey" cross-country and then "bite" them, but we'll settle for a glimpse of Royko in solitary. Jail and Bail prisoners will be on display from 9 to 4 today, Wednesday, and Thursday. Call 407-4007 for more info or to arrange to have someone you know arrested; you should be ready with trumped-up charges.
Restaurateur Alice Waters has become a cultural icon in California through the success of her Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse. Relying on basic, organically grown ingredients simply prepared, Waters puts a premium on friendliness and quality, leavening the heaviness of continental cooking and dispensing entirely with pretentiousness. In the process she has pretty much single-handedly invented the influential school of cooking known as California cuisine; her restaurant was regularly cited as one of the best in the country throughout the 70s and 80s, and the Chez Panisse Cookbook has a little-red-book-like penetration in some places. Waters will be signing her books and introducing a new line of granola in the book department of Marshall Field's, 111 N. State, from 12:30 to 1:30 this afternoon. It's free; 781-4555.
The Chicago Academy of Sciences's Dino-rama exhibit is closed, but you can see a genuine prehistoric beast at the Fairmont Hotel today as former Reagan national security adviser and free-lance nut Jeane Kirkpatrick explains how the collapse of the Warsaw Pact squares with her theories about intractable "totalitarian" governments (i.e., Russia and its allies) that the U.S. must oppose and, by way of contrast, tractable authoritarian regimes (Chile, the Shah's Iran, Iraq) that we should coddle. Kirkpatrick speaks at Marshall Field's "Challenging the Future" banquet, where she'll share the Imperial Ballroom stage with the debut of a new Estee Lauder fragrance and a fashion show. It's a $25 ticket for talk, dinner, and show; the event starts at 5. (You can use your ticket as a voucher toward a purchase at Field's career department.) The Fairmont is at 200 N. Columbus. Call 781-4777 for ticket info.
You can get an early up-close look at some new snaps by Victor Skrebneski at the Rhona Hoffman Gallery tonight. Skrebneski: The Spectralization of a Figure in Movement is a one-night-only show; a reception runs from 6 to 8. The gallery is at 215 W. Superior; it's free. Call 951-8828.
Labor Day already? Time for the 13th annual Chicago Jazz Festival. The customary Thursday-night kickoff features Ramsey Lewis with Dr. Billy Taylor opening a bill that includes William Russo and the Classic Jazz Ensemble, Vandy Harris and the Front Burners, and the Marilyn Crispell Trio and closes with the incomparable Wynton Marsalis. The show runs from 6 to 10:30 at the Petrillo Bandshell at Columbus and Jackson in Grant Park. Tomorrow through Sunday a smaller stage on Jackson offers music from noon to 5 and Petrillo reopens in the evenings (6 Friday, 5 Saturday and Sunday); headliners are a quintet featuring Jay McShann, Milt Hinton, Claude Williams, Buddy Tate, and Bobby Durham on Friday, the premiere of George Gruntz's "Chicago Cantata" on Saturday, and Hugh Masekela on Sunday. It's free. Call 744-3315 or 744-3370 for details.