Basketball observers who bleed red, white and blue have been publicly lamenting the overseas infusion of talent into the pro game of late, citing the Europeans' decided edge in the fundamentals department, while still giving stateside players the nod when it comes to raw athleticism. While this argument is somewhat simplistic, the And1 Mix Tape Tour -- a double-dribbling, showboating, behind-the-backtacular streetball tournament that makes a stop at Savvis Center (14th Street at Clark Avenue, $15-$50) at 7:30 p.m. -- is doing its darnedest to advance the profligate notion that every American playground legend just wants to be the next Allen Iverson or Jason "White Chocolate" Williams.
But even if you're not a bling-ass baller intent on competing in the event's free "Open Run" at 4 p.m. (registration at 3:30), what makes the whole hoop-hopera worth attending is that St. Louis' own Chingy will be performing in conjunction with the asphalt action. Playa's blowed up international, yo -- evidence his "Right Thurr" in heavy rotation on MTV. So let down yurr hurr, y'alls, and get your piznarty on with the shiznorties sippin' fiznorties up in Sav Central. -- Mike Seely
The Cycle Continues
Critical Mass offers hope to the auto-less
Cars are bad -- they pollute our air, use up resources, occupy lots of space and can be quite lethal -- yet so convenient. Many people would like to drive less, but our country was practically built around the automobile, which makes escaping our addiction to it difficult. St. Louis' shabby public transportation system doesn't help much either -- the number of bus routes is paltry, and it'll probably take the MetroLink eons to develop a north/south line. It's just easier to drive to the convenience mart than to walk or ride a bike there (especially when it's cold and/or rainy). Many of us would like the exercise, but we just can't find the inspiration to get out there and pedal.
That's where Critical Mass comes in: this loose affiliation of bicycle enthusiasts holds non-competitive group bike rides on the last Friday of every month to generate awareness of the bicycle as a viable form of transportation. The group meets at Kiener Plaza (7th at Market streets), it's free to participate and the rides generally last about 2 leisurely hours. This month's ride will depart around 6 p.m. Paul MacFarlane, a regular participant in the rides, encourages everyone to take part: "Everyone -- kids, old people, families, independents, couples. It doesn't matter what kind of bike: racing bikes, mountain bikes, recumbents, tandems, everything. It's a huge cross-section of all sorts of people who believe in the bicycle."
When asked why people should attend, MacFarlane replies, "It's fun! If you're a committed rider, you'll meet lots of others who are; and if you've never ridden with a group before, you'll see what a wonderful sense of community and positivism we have." For more info, check out www.stlcriticalmass.org. -- Guy Gray
Call Him Coach Loach
July is not a month normally associated with hockey, but when a player like Lonnie Loach makes the news, it's time to talk hockey. Lonnie, recently retired left winger for St. Louis' other professional hockey team, the Missouri River Otters, has been appointed head coach for the upcoming season (just thirteen weeks off, hockey fans). It honestly could not have happened to a nicer guy. The team's all-time leading scorer, Loach had an outstanding fifteen-year minor league career, with occasional stints in the NHL, including a 50-game run with the LA Kings in 1992-93 that resulted in ten goals and thirteen assists. The River Otters have had trouble getting past the first round of the playoffs (sounds like another, much larger-payroll team we know), and maybe with Lonnie behind the bench, they'll will buck that trend. Loach had a scorer's touch and a big heart when he played, and you can bet he'll demand as much from his players. "Old Time Hockey," indeed. -- Paul Friswold
Can You Take Me to the Bridge?
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, the much-fabled, Mississippi-crossing stretch of Route 66, will be receiving a mother load when it's opened for motor vehicle passage -- a rare treat, considering the bridge has been closed to automobiles since 1968.
A picnic, co-sponsored by the Route 66 Association of Missouri and Trailnet, gets going near the bridge's Missouri entrance at noon; cars can start traversing the bridge at 5 p.m. More info can be found at www.missouri66.org (free, 618-585-3081, one block south of I-270 along Riverview Boulevard). -- Rose Martelli
To Market We Will Go
Farmer's markets are friendly -- the food is friendly to your body, the earth and the local economy. Open-air extravaganzas like the Old Town Market in Belleville are family-friendly, too, with kids' activities, artisans and local farmers who are always happy to see you. Visit the Old Town Market from 8 a.m.-noon Saturdays through September in Ever & Anon Park at the corner of East Main Street and Mascoutah Avenue (free, firstname.lastname@example.org). -- Mark Dischinger