Fear and Loathing at Concordia
In 1985, Hunter S. Thompson, the father of so-called “Gonzo Journalism,” came to Concordia to give a lecture.
The Concordia University Student Association (Concordia’s undergraduate union prior to the CSU) paid Thompson $7,000 to give a two-hour speech.
The exclusive interview with Thompson by Link staffer Dwayne Perreault is by far one of the most famous articles in The Link ’s history, and has somewhat of a cult status here in the office.
The interview didn’t happen as Perreault imagined it would, which in retrospect should have been expected.
After greeting him at the airport, Perreault, Thompson and a few people from CUSA went to Thompson’s hotel where they where they indulged in a cocktail of illicit substances.
“George [the driver] was obviously bored, and began passing out mushrooms,” wrote Perreault. “Again, Thompson protested that he was under deadline, and again he accepted the drug. I thought I should too, since everyone else was.”
He was scheduled to interview Thompson the next day, a few hours before the public lecture.
It almost didn’t happen.
“I knocked on the door, then heard a shout and a large thump on the other side of the door,” wrote Perreault. “I found out later that Thompson had thrown a very large diving knife at me. Obviously, he did not feel like doing the interview.”
Twenty-eight years later, we began to wonder where Perreault had gone since his time spent at The Link. Did he still remember the details of interview?
A few Internet searches didn’t yield much in terms of results beside the Twitter profile of a wine seller in the Netherlands.
As unlikely as it might seem, this was Perreault.
After his time at The Link —a time when he was already disenchanted with the state of the mainstream media—he decided not to pursue a career in journalism. He travelled the world, then moved permanently to Amsterdam.
“I thought I would fly to Amsterdam because I was running out of money, I would buy a bicycle and cycle to the south of France and pick grapes,” said Perreault in a recent interview.
“It never happened because after 10 days I met my girlfriend,” he said. “End of the story, I’m still here 21 years later.”
Today he works as a wine appraiser, setting the price of vintage wine and occasionally writing about it.
One problem still remained: how to get to Perreault? Student newspapers don’t typically have the budget to ship a reporter 5,000 kilometres away, even by boat.
Through friends of friends, we finally found Niels Tuijtel, a Dutch broadcast journalist who accepted to do the interview for The Link.
The story behind the story is sometimes more interesting than the original story itself.