Marie-Antoinette’s Tree Goes Boom

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Marie-Antoinette’s Tree Goes Boom

Marie-Antoinette's been dead for 215 years but her legend as spendthrift fashionista indifferent to peasants' misery lives on in metaphor for the current crop of bloated, corrupt, fuck-you-I-earned-this-over-the-top-bonus-because-well-
because-I-say-I-did financiers who see nothing amiss in their million-dollar office remodel being paid for by homeless taxpayers.

You know their names, these guys who made money out of money without creating anything of value, snookered billions from millions and have yet to apologize for anything to anyone. Apologize? Why should they apologize? Isn't money the ultimate test of success? Didn't they make more money than anyone else? I don't see a problem, do you see a problem?


Even Barbie wants to look like Marie-Antoinette.

At least Marie-Antoinette took a personal interest in the fabrication of gorgeous silks and porcelaine and furniture. Limoges, Gobelins, Sèvres, anyone? At least she insured the robust health of the trades that became industries and still create revenue and reputation for la Belle France. She also was actually Queen, a devout Catholic and, for all she knew, had a divine right to do whatever-the-fuck-she-pleased within the limits of her job description.

These guys, on the other hand, inhabit the post-Revolutionary age. What's their excuse? They're in it for themselves. Their loyalties extend to... what, who? Not the country, not the currency, not their clients. They couldn't care less about Congress, their fellow citizens. The grief, the suicides, the bank failures worldwide? Qu'ils mangent de la brioche! (Let 'em eat doughnuts!)

Marie-Antoinette invested in infrastructure: she gave the most gifted artisans and artists steady employment creating beautiful objects and décor everyone in the world immediately wanted a piece of. How much did she cost France? A drop in the bucket compared to war. War ruined France. Even today, this verity isn't broadcast. Aesthetics don't bring down empires; dealing death and destruction does.

Marie-Antoinette was a figurehead, a role model, a trendsetter. A devoted wife and mother, she also... wait for it... liked women. She chose a woman as court painter. The passionate attachment of her favorites to the Queen gave rise to rumors of sapphic proclivities. When the Revolution needed a scapegoat, lesbianism was used to defame her. As things heated up, the Princesse de Lamballe's head was stuck on a pike and brandished at her window in hopes she'd catch a glimpse. Well, that's what happens when you let people starve in the streets. Davos, listen up.


Marie-Antoinette's faux farm, where she fantasized the peasant's life.

Marie-Antoinette is also in the news because a purple beech tree planted at Versailles in 1789 fell down in a storm that killed a few dozen people in France and Spain last week. The tree, part of the faux farm where she used to play shepherdess, was 80 feet tall with a 70-foot canopy. Top-heavy, with roots that were rotten. Spot the metaphor.

Comments [67]

Steph H's picture

My gran bought me a doll and

My gran bought me a doll and legend has it that I never took it out of the box.... I was too busy making fires in the back garden...

Steph H's picture

Ha ha!! I didn't know having

Ha ha!! I didn't know having a Batman was "so British" - I love it!!!!
I was a Beano FREAK!
No offence taken at all my lovely goat friend!


yonks's picture

It wasn't only france. But

It wasn't only france.
But how archaic it was in regard of the cyclopean vacuum maelstrom we got now.

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Grace Moon's picture

i try to keep up with the

i try to keep up with the Goats...

tweet tweet @gracemoon

Allegra's picture

Especially when Saturn stays

Especially when Saturn stays in a sign for 2 1/2 years.

bronniepickle's picture

Even the most unimaginative

Even the most unimaginative goat has more imagination than the aforementioned Ms. Shake-down.
She has never been more than a mediocre (at best) self-promotor who exploited the hunger of marginalized, invisible lesbians to see positive portrayals of ourselves in the media...AND since we were so starved we settled on "portrayals" and "media", sacrificing the "ourselves" and "positive".
Although the infrequent to rare TiBette sex has been great, I have not seen my life or the lives of anyone I've ever met reflected in the lives of TLW's contrived soap opera characters. And being nothing more than a soap opera, I have seen no positive portrayals of these alien fictional characters. In fact, I suspect that TLW is even an anomaly among soap operas in that there has never been a single long term intact monogamous lesbian relationship depicted on the show (now that's unbelievable).
Dana, the only character who approached the status of being a positive portrayal (in my eyes), was killed off by breast cancer in a terrible story line that could have ended in recovery and hope instead of death and despair.

The only thing remarkable about TLW is just the fact that the show has been about all lesbian characters living in an insular lesbian universe (except for Kit). And honestly other than the gender, TLW was just a logical emanation from Queer as Folk, except it's actually somewhat of a regression since QAF featured a relatively healthy, long term monogamous GAY GUY couple (now that was risky for a soap opera focused on gay men). I say this even though I wasn't even a huge fan of the show but do appreciate its landmark status.

SO never a trailblazer, never desirous of presenting realistic positive images of lesbians to ourselves or the world, never a visionary, what more could we expect from Ms. Shake-down than to be an exploitative capitalist no matter how much she's tried to convince us that she's otherwise?

Erin Blackwell's picture

i see no "betrayal" in that

i see no "betrayal" in that article, although i do see M-A called "the Sappho of the Trianon"

Pour Antoine de Baecque, la description morbide de la mise à mort [de Lamballe] et des outrages visait à « exprimer l’anéantissement du complot aristocratique... ainsi que le supposé complot féminin et lesbien – menaçant la prééminence masculine – de « la Sapho de Trianon », vilipendée par les chroniqueurs et les gazetiers sous l’Ancien Régime »

what i know about M-A legend rests in part on:

La Reine scélérate. Marie-Antoinette dans les pamphlets by Chantal Thomas, translated as "The Wicked Queen," which one interaut says:

"démontre la détestation, la haine et le désir que cette femme, j'oserai dire le phantasme que cette reine a fait naître dans l'esprit de ses contemporains."

Dornac's picture

hahaha... safe from lunch in

hahaha... safe from lunch in some countries, but not others...
That's why I like Mediterranean countries.

Dornac's picture

You were so lucky to have a

You were so lucky to have a little sister ! I had to make as if with all these ridiculous dolls some people gave me. How boooring!! But it was ok with "action figure", strangely...

lmz's picture

i think French people was not

i think French people was not so interested in Marie-Antoinette. I don't think she inspired Revolution.

about the Queen and Mme de Lamballe.

i don't know a thing about their intimacy but we know some little things about how Mme de Lamballe has been replaced by Mme de Polignac as "surintendante de la maison de la reine" in Versailles.

Erin Blackwell's picture



Erin Blackwell's picture

it's ok to be nuts.

it's ok to be nuts.

conlite's picture

Fond memories of Beano!

Fond memories of Beano! (Though it swallowed my pocket-money at an alarming rate.)
Dolls were given to me by distant, misguided relatives who hadn't met me. These went to my little sister while I got on with the serious business of playing Robin Hood.

Erin Blackwell's picture

crying's good for

crying's good for you.

france was bankrupt by wars, mostly by Louis XIV bungling his american adventure, for which i'll never forgive him. we could be speaking french instead of english.

you bring it back to economics & the rise of the merchant class, you're so clever. which class is rising now, i wonder?

Erin Blackwell's picture

ah, someone understood the

ah, someone understood the blog!

Erin Blackwell's picture

chilling. it's true. rich

chilling. it's true. rich people don't think poor people are people.

Erin Blackwell's picture


french merchants sailed to africa, bought slaves, sailed to america & sold or traded them for cotton or other goods they brought back to france. so france profited from slavery without practicing it on home soil.

Erin Blackwell's picture

when i think brioche, i think

when i think brioche, i think EGGS. it's like challah, very rich & nourishing.

For starter
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1/4 cup warm milk or water (105°F)
* 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
* 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)

For dough
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* 1 tablespoon hot milk or water
* 3 large eggs
* 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)
* 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices and well softened

* Special equipment: a standing electric mixer with whisk and dough-hook attachments

Erin Blackwell's picture

i wonder if you can speak

i wonder if you can speak "for French people" or for yourself?

you seem to know something about her intimate friends. how did she betray Lamballe?

Erin Blackwell's picture

there's also a

there's also a pluto-in-capricorn connection, i believe

Erin Blackwell's picture

i was excited to get a barbie

i was excited to get a barbie as a kid but i had NO IDEA what to do with her once i had her! this other girl made her seem fun, but all i could do was stare.

Dornac's picture

Thanks for the translation

Thanks for the translation (the french one says it, yeah Wink
"pis-aller"= second best , sort of "rest", what you take when you don't have anything else to replace something (sort of ersatz).

I didn't see the last ones about french law...?

Erin Blackwell's picture

i had no idea GOATS had such

i had no idea GOATS had such GREAT IMAGI-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-NATIONS.

i'm happy the GOAT was happy & hope the goat will be happy again as soon as she recovers from the GROSS DECEPTION practiced upon mythological creatures by a RAVING CAPITALIST WHORE, Ilene Shake-down.

VALUE is relative & not restricted to market value, but market-value, like BAD MUSIC, drowns out Real Values, so we have to FIGHT to hear ourselves think & gambol.

Marie-Antoinette inspired a revolution, so can Ilene Shake-down, so can Bernie Madoff. we can resist MONEY (merci, Pink Floyd) as the ultimate measure of value.

NB Ilene Shake-down would look LOUSY in a pannier dress.

Erin Blackwell's picture

TRANSLATION for non-French

TRANSLATION for non-French speakers:

"i remembered the pis-aller [?] of a great princess, to whom someone said the peasants had no bread, who replied: Let them eat brioche. I bought brioche."

[FROM Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions (published posthumously) 2 or 3 years before Marie-Antoinette arrived in France in 1770.]

[ELSEWHERE ON THE WEB 'French law obliged bakers to sell standard varieties of bread at fixed weights and prices. At the time of this quip, bakers had to sell a fancier loaf for the price of a cheap one if cheap ones sold out. This stopped the trick of baking a few cheapies & increasing profit by baking mostly price-unregulated loaves. Whoever said "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche" implied the bread shortage could be alleviated by enforcing the law against profiteering bakers.'...hmmm, i wonder if that's what she meant.]

Dornac's picture

I like when you speak both

I like when you speak both French and Italian, Grace. You have a lovely accent.

Dornac's picture

Can you be tired sometimes

Can you be tired sometimes like everybody, my dear Yonks ?
Don't worry.

yonks's picture

Je me suis mis le choix dans

Je me suis mis le choix dans la date lol j'ai vraiment nullé sur celle la, it was too obvious :oops:

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Dornac's picture

Rousseau quoted a lady saying

Rousseau quoted a lady saying the same as we think (but we doubt about it) Marie-Antoinette said.
It was to support your doubt about this quote.
If Rousseau said it in 1735, it could be false for Marie-Antoinette in 1789.

Am I clear?

lmz's picture

May i say that French

May i say that French Revolution gave a number of new civil rights to women : a real civil status, freedom of opinion, freedom to marry or divorce (the law included divorce by mutual consent), equality of rights between spouses BUT refused them any political right.

yonks's picture

I re-read Rousseau's quote

I re-read Rousseau's quote and i don't understand how does it apply for my comment.
maybe i'm nuts Sad

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

yonks's picture

And at that time, sugar cames

And at that time, sugar cames straight from america so we get back to the triangular trade

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

Dornac's picture

sugar, yes sugar. ;)

sugar, yes sugar.

Dornac's picture

OK... but couldn't you take

OK... but couldn't you take one with a little transparency?
I am sure it would suit you...

Tex's picture

D, I got buck naked last

D, I got buck naked last night for the causes.....I'm behind the flag....

Twitter Time @kdhales

Dornac's picture

Tex, do you still plan to

Tex, do you still plan to undress (I read other comments about that and I am still expecting it) ?

Tex's picture

Great here Steph - have a

Great here Steph - have a fantastic weekend!

Twitter Time @kdhales

Tex's picture

Semantics aside - I still

Semantics aside - I still think they make a beautiful couple....use that sword (semantics again) to get rid of all that cloth....

Twitter Time @kdhales

Dornac's picture

Oh you are so British! I had

Oh you are so British!
I had an english friend who always talked to me about Batman while I was loving spiderman (I had one in "action figure") when we were about 10.
He was also reading Beano (and I still have two Beanos at home and a Nutty) with Dennis the menace.
In Nutty, I loved Bananaman (no offense here to Batman, of course).

Goatornac's picture



Goatornac's picture

Don't take it bad. I was not

Don't take it bad. I was not correcting to make you bad nor to abase you. I was just sayin'.
When I am sure or not sure of something, I say it.
Btw, I didn't say you were totally wrong : I just said that brioche is expensive and has a lot of flour. I didn't say that it has more flour than bread or something.

Dornac's picture

The first time I saw a tree

The first time I saw a tree in an orchard of a queen, I couldn't believe how freely people were playing there.
It was the first time I was seeing all these bacchantes (maenads) -imagine how happy a goat can be!- from all over the world, playing, building thoughts, writing notes and poems, and stories, sharing all of this (yes, you read so : SHARING- a strange word for some).
When the queen closed the garden I just wondered:
does she think she is the only owner of this place?
Yes, she thinks so.
Does it mean that all the fruits of the tree were not valuable?
None of these fruits has any value, really?

What would happen to facebook or myspace if suddenly they closed the door?
I mean, legally?

MONEY is like an election. When some have money, they think they are elected and that they can decide for everybody without asking.

Goatornac's picture

Goats love motorcycles, it

Goats love motorcycles, it waves their small goateeee in the wind.
Shnop ;*

Steph H's picture

I had Batman with full

I had Batman with full paraphernalia.

The writing was on the wall there I feel!

Hope you are doing okay T-ex.

Dornac's picture

Right... thanks to recall how

Right... thanks to recall how words say long about a society. "Dolls" (ridiculous) for girls and "action figure" (worthy play) for boys.

yonks's picture

thanks, kiss to you :)

thanks, kiss to you Smile

-Do not follow me, I'M LOST-

TheInsomniac's picture

Loving footnotes here! Or

Loving footnotes here! Or should I say hoofnotes? Smile


lmz's picture

She probably never said that

She probably never said that but she could have.

and sorry Simei but cooking Brioche requires butter and sugar, very expensive ingredients.

minniesota's picture

Rusty must be busy, otherwise

Rusty must be busy, otherwise she'd vehemently let you know that it is not a doll but an "action figure."

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Tex's picture

I have a Ken doll......

I have a Ken doll......

Twitter Time @kdhales

Xanadu's picture

I starting to think I might

I starting to think I might be the only feminist lesbian who has a Barbie collection?! ... I'm slightly obsessed with her (and her more wholesome British rival Sindy).

*ducking for cover*