They operate in the shadows: in dive bars, back alleys, dog tracks, firing ranges, and the occasional all-you-can-eat buffet.
Their mission is to motivate, educate, elucidate, and intimidate. They live amongst us, and yet they are a total mystery.
I'm talking, of course, about the SCORPIONS, the toughest book club around.
Haven't heard of them? Don't worry, you will.
You see, this "hard guy" book club is taking the country - the world, even - by storm. First came coverage in the New Yorker. Then a post on Gawker. Now, Playboy.
Yes, the granddaddy of lad mags actually cited the SCORPS in a short article about the "best hard-guy books of all time" (see page 19 in the Marge Simpson collector's issue). Next up: Cafe, the highest-selling men's magazine in Sweden (watch for the November issue).
The invite-only club is comprised of eight members who meet on a regular basis to discuss "tough guy" books...things like Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridien and Steve Alten's MEG. But like most book clubs, the reading is only part of the fun: each meeting of the SCORPIONS incorporates discussion of selected
reading material as well as competition, gambling, tests of strength
(mental and/or physical) and trivia. And in some way, the losers always pay. Or as the SCORPS would say, "We read. We bleed. We kick ass."
So who exactly are these mysterious book lovers and what makes them so tough? The CultureJunkie took it to the streets (and pool halls and back alleys) to find out.
CJ: Why all the interest in the SCORPIONS?
SCORP #8: As in the insect? Next question.
CJ: Has the attention distracted from your mission?
Tanaka: No. We still kick a lot of ass and are comfortable with how awesome we are.CJ:
What makes you so tough?
Shakelton: What makes water wet? What makes birds fly (besides their wings)? What makes a guy struggle when he is in a choke hold?CJ:
Which is more fun: the books or the physical challenges?
Judge: None of it is fun – it’s a way of life.
CJ: Tell me something we don't already know about your membership.
MC Trouble: We’ve applied to have SCORPIONS headquarters recognized as a sovereign nation. Status is still pending.
CJ: If you could have any super hero be an honorary member, who would it be?
Scorp #8: MC Trouble’s Mom. [members nod their heads in unison]
CJ: What song/artist would be on the SCORPION soundtrack?
Undead: Scorpions – Winds of change
CJ: If I wanted to take a SCORP-themed vacation, what would you recommend?
The Spaniard: Travel light and bring fist packs.
CJ: How about best spot for dining out?
Slayer: Medieval Manor. Ask for Waffles, he knows us and will take care of you.
CJ: Favorite shopping destination?
Undead: Bangkok Red Light District [I contemplate asking what MC Trouble's honorary-member Mom would say to that, but then fear the answer]
Shakelton: Hip Zepi in Downtown Crossing
CJ: What's next for the SCORPIONS? Are you hoping for an invitation to the Playboy Mansion?
Tanaka: If invited, Hef should hope we accept.