My Blackwater T-Shirt Is Worth a Bundle!

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Look out eBay here I come. My ship has finally come in. And all this time you thought it was rotting away on the barrier reef. Don’t feel bad, the rats thought so too. They jumped ages ago. I sure do miss my Little Buddies.

Anyway, I am the proud owner of an original Blackwater T-shirt! Now that Blackwater USA… uh… Blackwater Worldwide has chickened out from all the bad press and changed their name to "Xe" (pronounced "zee" just like the paper towels) the collectible value of my T-shirt has skyrocketed! Maybe I can even sell it for enough to get the repossessed Dive Master Special back!

In pristine, mint condition, my Blackwater T is a size large; color… ink-squid black… what else would it be? It sports that eye-catching red crosshairs target motif superimposed over the white bear paw with a curved "Blackwater" above. Tres chic. There’s the small logo on the front left breast and the big one across the back, the subtext of which reads: "Don’t mess with me! I’m hair trigger crazy!" Needless to say, I have rarely worn it in public… well… except for that Parent’s Meet and Greet Night at my son’s school.

I don’t know about you, but this name change to "Xe" bothers me. Okay, okay… I understand the need to shed the bad rap Blackwater has earned. Gosh… I wonder if anything I wrote wore off some of the gunmetal blue from the corporate patina? But those suits at headquarters have got to understand that allowing a few of their guys to get off the leash in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square and blowing away a whole heap of Iraq civilians was not real smooth. Also, let’s not forget that time a Blackwater employee in Iraq got drunk on duty and proceeded to kill one of the "good guy" Iraqis. Whoopsie daisy! Better dock his pay and send him home for some more training, which is exactly what Blackwater did. And seriously folks, was the Fallujah Massacre over four dead Blackwater thugs hanging from a bridge really worth it? Hey, what the heckers were they doing in Fallujah anyway?

You know it’s all fine and dandy to polish up the company image through a name change and some slick marketing but maybe… and I may be going out on a limb here… just maybe Blackwater… uh Xe… should be more concerned with changing their tactics. Is it just me or do others concur that running a company the employees of which could pass for Hitler’s SA Brown Shirts just might be as ill-advised as promising a dead roach in every aspirin bottle?

It’s a darn shame. That feisty old Blackwater logo will be a tough act to follow. And it was eye-catching, memorable. But then… so was the Nazi flag, which used the same colors… I ask you, what kind of shock and awe is this meaningless "Xe" thing going to instill? Talk about wimpy! Sounds like the name of an anorexic Chinese fashion model.

Listen, if you are the mad dictator of some vermin-infested third-world hellhole… like New Orleans for example… don’t you want to hire the most terrifying private goon squad in the phone book to provide "security?" Damn straight! Fear and intimidation is half the battle.

So… what does "Xe" inspire? Nothing. Your fledgling dictator knows with "Xe" he’s hired a mercenary company that is afraid of the press! Oh come on! Afraid of a bunch of scribblers? This has to be a joke! Don’t tell me the pen is mightier than the sword. I know better.

If Blackwater really were the ultimate purveyor of badass mercenaries, they should capitalize on a name that means mayhem and cash in on all this "bad" publicity! You know, in reality, there is no such thing as bad publicity. It’s all good! Think of the catch phrases! "Blackwater: You make the rules! We lay down the law!" "Blackwater: Culling the herd." "Blackwater: Your Full-Service Genocidal Maniacs."

As well, Blackwater might use seals of approval from distinguished customers, you know the sort of thing to be seen on jars of figs at Fortnum & Mason. "Purveyors of Death to Caesars of the New World Order."

Now what can a firm called "Xe" possibly claim? "We are Xe best?" "Xe! We make the blood! Nobody cleans it up!" Piffle!

However, Xe claims to be changing course from being a direct supplier of murderous psychopaths to a firm that merely trains murderous psychopaths. Well that’s a novel reversal of fortune for the aspiring soldier of fortune. Must be something the legal department came up with. Less product liability?

Don’t fret. Xe will continue in Blackwater’s fine tradition of mayhem for a price. And now, for a few pennies extra, they offer more "air support." I suppose that means that now they’ll fly over and bomb Nisoor Square next time. Bully. Much more efficient. That should get a higher body count, which should be good for future business.

The fact is Xe is still Blackwater, the world’s most notorious private mercenary company. Whatever candy-coated term they want to use to describe their activities — "private security training" or "logistical support" — they still sell just one thing only, modern gunslingers that often operate outside the law.

Will new recruits to the firm discover that there are no rules of engagement at Xe? Will instructors drill them, "Just remember your Miranda rights: if you get caught, don’t admit to anything." Management will stand by their men. Don’t worry. Be happy.

Well, the Iraqi "government" has tried to kick Blackwater out twice now. Maybe, they’ve succeeded. But, how are they going to kick out a firm the name of which is impossible to pronounce?

But, I digress. My Blackwater T-shirt is on the auction block. It goes to the highest bidder who meets or surpasses the reserve… and that has yet to be determined. I may just want to keep it for black-tie social events. Either way… Don’t miss out! The bidding is open! Every man has his price.

February 20, 2009

Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo and Los Angeles. Currently he resides somewhere in the Caribbean.

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