Today, the Hungry Duck has been reincarnated as a monument to itself — a carefully considered multitiered sports bar with industrial-chic trappings. The toilets are covered with kitschy Soviet propaganda posters, and the toilet seats are chained to the walls. There is a gift shop.
Ah, the gift shop. Like CBGB’s, the Fillmore West, the Rolling Stones and other such zeit-culture snapshots of the moment, the Hungry Duck has entered the realm of what a friend of mine who works in the concert promotion business refers to as “the heritage tour”—one last gasp (grasp?) to essentially monetize what is now a ghost by any other name.
I thought this an appropriate time to add my own eyewitness account to the record. I went to the Hungry Duck a couple times in late 1997. If you do a simple Google search for “Hungry Duck” (note the photo search results in particular), that should give you enough of an idea of the obvious if you’re looking for that sort of account.
Otherwise, the truth is that period of my life is a bit fuzzy, but living in Russia was so far removed from the sort of life I had imagined for myself as a 23-year old that I felt compelled to keep a journal. I finally transferred this journal to my hard drive during a big housecleaning effort I went through last year after my father passed away. So I’ve just spent some time looking through some of those scribblings and it has brought back a couple memories. Other things I’ve written in there…well, I know it’s my writing, but I honestly just don’t remember some of this stuff. In any event, here’s what I can tell you about what’s in my notes and what little I actually remember of being in there: