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Friday 21

Time again for the Variety Club's annual Greater Chicago Duck Race! If you're not familiar with the event, here's the deal: you adopt a rubber duck for $5; it, along with several thousand others, is dumped off the bridge at Wabash at 12:30 PM and left to drift up the Chicago River to the finish line, just east of Michigan Avenue. (In previous years the race went the other way, but the rebuilding of the Michigan Avenue bridge has complicated things and water cannons will be on hand to push the ducks against the current.) If your duck finishes in the top 100 you have a chance to win all sorts of donated prizes. The money raised goes to a trio of children's charities. You can adopt ducks in advance (call 348-DUCK) or on the scene. It's free to go watch.

Saturday 22

"Despite all his success, Tom Dreesen has never forgotten his hometown, and this is our way of saying we'll never forget Tom." So saith Harvey mayor David Johnson about the christening of Dreesen Street in the south suburb. If you're not sure who Dreesen is, small wonder: he's the stand-up whose main claim to fame is ten years spent opening shows on Sinatra's evermore anemic concert tours. The dedication ceremony, with Dreesen scheduled to appear, happens at noon today at 155th Street and Center in Harvey. It's free to watch. Call 708-210-5311 for details.

The Burnin' Chicago Blues Machine, a newish collaborative effort of some of the city's most prominent blues sidemen, has put together a free blues jam and workshop for kids from 1 to 3:30 this afternoon at Buddy Guy's Legends, 745 S. Wabash. The idea is that youngsters with a hankering to play the blues can come down to the club, see the band play, break off for discussion with the individual members, and then hit the stage to jam with them. To participate, the band says, bring guitars and horns; they'll provide keyboards and drums. Call 708-458-7343 for more.

If you know who Cubby O'Brien and Lonnie Burr are, you'll probably want to know that they'll appear in town at 2 today as part of An Afternoon With the Mickey Mouse Club at the Museum of Broadcast Communications. The two original Mouseketeers will be joined by a 14-year-old Mouseketeer (from the Disney Channel's current version of the show) and Eyewitness News reporter Janet Davies for a few hours of reminiscences--and, no doubt, some mutual consolation over the sad Mouseketeer news on the cover of last week's People ("Annette Funicello: Her Secret Battle With Multiple Sclerosis"). It's free at the museum, in the Chicago Cultural Center, Michigan Avenue at Washington. Call 629-6000 for more.

You can help some of the best all-woman barbershop quartets and choruses in the country raise money to attend an international competition in Baltimore in October by attending the Sweet Adeline Champions show at 7:30 this evening. The show's at the historic Rialto Square Theatre, 102 N. Chicago, in Joliet. Headlining are finalists from the 1991 internationals, the femme foursome Chicago Fire. Also on the agenda: the quartets Second City Rhythm, Legacy, and Tanaz along with a couple of local choruses and Taylor Trimby on the theater's grand old organ. Tickets cost $10 and $12; call 815-726-6600 for more.

Sunday 23

With his neighborhood basketball tournament Hoops for a Better America founder Richard Lufrano hopes to create "racial harmony on hardwood." It continues today, preceded by a barbeque at Anshe Emet Synagogue, 3760 N. Pine Grove. Jesse White is scheduled to speak, and enough food has been donated to feed 200 people. It starts at 2, and afterward two playoff games determine who goes to next Sunday's finals. It's all free; call 549-2341 for more.

The first of two Voices From Russia concerts sponsored by the Chicago Loop Synagogue, 16 S. Clark, takes place at 3 today with the Family Shparber, a trio led by composer, conductor, and keyboardist Misha Shparber. With his wife Irina and their son Sasha on vocals and a pick-up band of emigres, the group will play klezmer, Russian, Yiddish, and Israeli folk songs. The show is free, and a reception follows. Keep an eye out for the second show, to feature celebrated cantor Misha Alexandrovitch on November 10. Call 346-7370 for more.

Monday 24

"I don't wait for the government to change things. Or social workers. Or Wall Street executives. I change things. We change things," says Lisa Nigro, director of the Inspiration Cafe, the Uptown agency that feeds the homeless for free. But the cafe is not a soup kitchen. It looks and acts like a restaurant: its staff serves clients breakfast every day and dinner twice a week, as well as serving up encouragement and help networking for jobs. There's a benefit dinner for the cafe at 7 tonight at Not Just Pasta, 2965 N. Lincoln. Forty dollars gets you a seven-course meal and wine. Call 878-0981 for tickets and information.

Tuesday 25

Rapper Chuck D of Public Enemy calls rap "black America's CNN," so it makes sense that the city's Health Department, looking for ways to reach kids with info on AIDS, is turning to rap to get out the message. Today, tomorrow, and Thursday are the last days kids can enter the department's Rap and Art Competition. Creators of the best poster designs and rap songs on AIDS prevention will win prizes (records, sports stuff, passes to Great America), and their work may be used in future prevention campaigns. Today the department will field entries at the Sabina Parish Hall, 1210 W. 78th Place; tomorrow at the Near South Side Clinic, 3525 S. Michigan; and Thursday at the Englewood Neighborhood Health Center, 641 W. 63rd Street. The offices are open from 1:30 to 6 PM each day. It's free to enter; call 747-5835 for details.

Wednesday 26

Poet, author, journalist, and biographer Gerry Nicosia found inspiration in both the beat poets of San Francisco and the activism of Vietnam veterans. The former led to his biography of Jack Kerouac (Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac) and still turns up in his poems ("When the city sparkles just before sundown / I think it's all those thousands of poets / Turning up their gas flames"). The latter interest has sparked two current projects: a massive history of the Vietnam vets movement and a collaboration with Ron Kovic on the sequel to Born on the Fourth of July. The former Chicagoan returns today for a free reading from his recent book of poems, Lunatics, Lovers, Poets, Vets & Bargirls. It happens at 7:30 at Barbara's Bookstore, 1350 N. Wells; call 642-5044. Afterward he's scheduled to appear at the Guild Complex at the HotHouse, 1565 N. Milwaukee, on a program that starts at 7:30 and also features poet Angela Shannon, with an open-mike session to follow. It's $4, $2 for people who'd like to read at the open mike. Call 278-2210 for more.

Thursday 27

Next, it's time again for the Newberry Library Book Fair, four days of used-book selling to benefit the library. Today the eighth annual version of the event begins there, at 60 W. Walton, with a members' preview from 4 to 8. (You can walk up and join for $35 if you're not currently a member.) It's open to the public from 4 to 8 tomorrow, 10 to 5 Saturday, and noon to five Sunday. It's free to look. Call 943-9090 for more.

Finally, if you're a fan, it might be worth the trip out to Oak Park to see actor, bon vivant, and literary jack-of-all-trades Steve Allen, who'll talk at the Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, 743 Garfield, in Oak Park. His latest book is Hi-Ho, Steverino!; he'll talk about it and answer questions at 5 PM, then sign books at 6. It's free; call 708-848-7243 for more.

Composer, pianist, and educator Muhal Richard Abrams appeared at Ravinia last week, jamming with his octet and some of his old Chicago pals from the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians: Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, and others. Today he'll play and give a lecture for free from 5:30 to 7 at the Chicago Cultural Center's Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington. Musicians are welcome to bring instruments. Abrams will talk about composition techniques for small groups and big bands with local bandleaders at 3:30 PM at the AACM School, 7058 S. Chappel, on Saturday. The public is welcome to watch, and it's free. Call 427-1676 for info on either event.


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