I heard recently that my old friend Jean-Marc Carisse and his wife Pat had opened a new photo studio, photo gallery and café on Elgin Street. The old one used to be in the prime real estate on Sussex Drive, which now looks like more like Damascus than a leafy street in the nation's capital.
We can thank Fortress America for turning the once picturesque Sussex Drive into a hot mess. So it's just as well the Carisses headed down to the Sens Mile.
If you haven't visited Carisse Café, and you're interested in a walk down memory lane, you must go there and scarf a Panini and chase it down with some lovely cappuccino. Jean-Marc has filled the place to the brim with memorabilia from his 40 odd years chasing after prime ministers and MPs on Parliament Hill.
There are also lots of photos of celebrities. Jean-Marc nearly got in bed with John and Yoko during their time in Montreal, and he's got lots of cool shots from various concerts. His photos of Leonard Cohen are my personal favorites. The café is also tricked out with lots of photos of world leaders from Jean-Marc's time travelling the world with Chretien.
JMC started his political journey first as Liberal Caucus photographer, where I first met him, and by the end of his official career took up prime office space in the Langevin Block shooting Jean Chretien's crooked mug for more than a decade.
JMC, truly, is the hardest working photographer in this town. His job hasn't always been easy, seeing as he is chronicling politics which is show business for ugly people. Along the way, JMC learned a few tricks to make MPs happy, like making sure nearly every shot has the Parliament Buildings in the background and always shooting with a wide angle to get as many sycophants in the picture as possible.
What's cool about the Carisse Café is that JMC is usually around to explain where each picture was taken and what was going on in the background. And believe you me, there are some pretty fantastic tales to go along with the photos.
The picture above was taken, I think, at a Wonderful Wednesday on Parliament Hill. As you can see, I've got my signature beer in the shot and Jane McDowell and I look frankly pretty hammered. That was our usual state during Wonderful Wednesday which was always followed by Terrible Thursday. I don't know how on Earth I survived those years, but I did once lose a chunk of my right ear. That's a story for another day.
Anyways, if you are downtown looking for a sober lunch on a generally inebriated street, check out this new little hotspot and tell Jean-Marc I sent you! He gives me food stamps for each referral.