Seattle and the Demons of Ambition
Fred Moody is a Seattle native. After college, and believing that Seattle, mired in its smug ways and old culture, had little to offer, he moved away. Several years later he moved back. In the years that followed, Moody became a self-employed printer and a journalist for the Weekly, an alternative newspaper, which, like Moody himself, could never quite decide whether to champion the old, or Lesser, Seattle or embrace the changes of the new Greater Seattle. Should it remain true to its past or to become a world-class city?
The old Seattle included trade, fishing, and lumbering, and also Boeing and its blue-collar workforce. The new Seattle encompassed Microsoft, Amazon.com, Nordstrom’s department stores, Starbucks, and the “grunge” sound of Nirvana and other cutting-edge musical groups, most of the latter unable to handle the fame and what went with it.
Moody expresses admiration for Bill Gates, whom he interviewed in the course of working on a book about Microsoft, finding the billionaire a unique combination of visionary and businessman. In contrast, many of the inhabitants of the new Seattle were either one or the other, and Moody is excellent on portraying some of the characters—and some truly were “characters”—who rode the dot.com roller-coaster up and then rode it down again.
Seattle and the Demons of Ambition is perfectly titled. An insightful reflection upon both the author and his city, it is eminently readable. Moody, like many in today’s Seattle, remains somewhat conflicted about the modern world, but concludes that the Greater Seattle aspirations and the dot.com bubble have not essentially changed the Seattle he loves.