North Valley

North Valley is a regional Arizona mag that claims an upscale target, but delivers a decidedly middle-class feel. That may be due, in part, to the cheesy ad layouts. Class distinctions are not subtle in the U.S. of A, particularly in big cities. Stroll down Fifth Avenue and pop into Tiffany's or Bergdorf Goodman. Say what you will about an upwardly mobile society; there are those who casually drop $135K on a diamond bracelet and those who do not.

Moreover, society swells rarely work out at places called Sweat, a Phoenix gym that promotes itself with slightly tacky before-and-after stills. Whatever else Sweat is, subtle it's not. Drop the extra 60 pounds you've been lugging around since Cheney shot his best friend in the face -- and your own mother won't recognize you.

I was equally stumped by the cover line "Discover Europe -- 3 Destinations Off-the-Beaten Path." Forget that unknown Tuscan hideaway or rustic Andalusian retreat. The troika here is Stockholm, Edinburgh and Prague! All sound choices, but they're hardly a mystery to travelers. I realize American high-school students routinely fail geography -- but Paris is not the capital of London, as a pampered 15-year-old once told me. NV should branch out -- or at least invest in a Fodor's guide.

And remember: the luxe crowd usually heads to St. Bart's or Gstaad, safe in the knowledge they will only hobnob with fellow elites. The rich, to quote "West Side Story," stick to their own kind. Democrats (small d) they are not.

So what are we to make of North Valley, brought to you by the team of Adam and Matthew Toren, publisher and president respectively? The joint photo on the Publisher's Note suggests the word "dude" is frequently heard at sales meetings, neither Toren owns a belt, and they wear the same shoes. A big part of their missive is touting the "Eclectic Foods" article. So let's grab some cutlery and see what's cooking.

Readers voted on the 2007 Restaurant Awards. Call me a cynic, but I raced to see if any advertisers had a shout out in the winner's circle. They did. Coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe they're just good restaurants. Ask the Scottsdale/Phoenix luxury- living-lifestyle crowd, to quote the mag's cut line. Under the heading "eclectic," we find Cowboy Ciao, billed as "modern American food with global influences." Also, Roy's Hawaiian Fusion and Eddie V's Edgwater Grille, which both tout seafood. I'm guessing each boasts fun T-shirts rather than Michelin stars.

Like most regional pubs,North Valleyis part directory, part local cheerleader. It's got the usual profiles, health, buzz, dining and style sections. Who's up for the Bison Museum? Cultural high point: Lewis Black, the irreverent comic who occasionally does a segment on "The Daily Show," is at the Dodge Theatre Feb. 2 with "Red, White & Screwed." If you're looking for funny, angry Jews -- and who isn't -- he's your man.

If, however, your tastes are less Hebraic, you'll probably check out the article on the Joy Christian School, the fourth-largest Lutheran school in the country. Interestingly, 70% of the student body doesn't attend the Community Church of Joy. Indeed, JCS claims to have "students from nearly every religious sect - Baptist, Catholic, Jewish." Since when is every religious sect Christian and Jewish? Aren't we missing some biggies? Hindus? Buddists? Muslims? Words matter. Admittedly, we're all a bit ethno- and geo-centric, but the world is too volatile a place to be this myopic. Even in North Valley.


Frequency: Bimonthly

Published by: North Valley Magazine

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