Home / Robert Farley / My Summer of Akira

My Summer of Akira

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At the beginning of the summer of 1998, I bought a computer. There was some problem with the credit card swipe, and they had to run it twice. Two days later, while attempting to use the card to buy some books, I discovered that I had, in fact, been charged twice for the computer. This was a problem, so I called my credit card company and complained. Instead of removing just one of the charges, they removed both.

It happened that the crappy U-district apartment I was living in that summer had lured us in with a “12 for the price of 11” deal; thus, no rent for August. We had paid first and last when moving in, so no rent for July. My roommates had essentially moved out; one was living with his girlfriend, and the other had bailed on the lease when another, nicer apartment became available. I didn’t have a ton of money; this was at the end of my first year of graduate school. But then I didn’t have very much in the way of expenses, either.

It would be wrong to say that I developed a “strategy”. I fully expected that the merchant or the credit card company would correct their error in short order, and the charge would go back on my card. However, I began notionally to live off the money I had allocated for the purchase of the computer. I canceled the cable, and began patronizing Scarecrow Video; for non-Seattleites, Scarecrow is one of the largest video stores on the West Coast. It was four blocks from my apartment. The Kurosawa collection at Scarecrow represented the central front in my summer strategy. I had seen a few minutes of Dreams on one cable channel or another, and decided that I should check out the rest of the catalogue. That summer, I watched Rashomon, and Seven Samurai, and Ikiru, and Red Beard, and Sanjuro, and Yojimbo, and The Idiot, Throne of Blood, the Lower Depths, Hidden Fortress, High and Low, Do’des Kaden, Dersu Uzala, Kagemusha, Ran, and Dreams. I became familiar with his stable of actors, most notably Toshiro Mifune and Takeshi Shimura. My favorite, I think, was Ikiru; something about seeing Takeshi Shimura on the swing in the playground just made me happy. I watched a lot of other films as well, but didn’t concentrate on any director to the same extent as Kurosawa.

I regard it as one of the best-spent summers of my life. In that spirit, let’s take moment to honor the 100th birthday of Emperor Kurosawa:

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