06/08/2012 05:27 pm ET Updated Aug 08, 2012

The Legend of the Ming Joint

Many years before I became the world-weary bon vivant you love to love, I was a seeker of the dark and mystic arts. I was the sort of chap whom you might find hanging in a Taiwanese hotel, dead from autoerotic asphyxiation. I'm not saying those days are over (hell, they've really only just begun) but back then, I wasn't quite so spent. And it was in the great nomadic travels of my youth that I happened upon the legend of the Ming Joint.

I don't remember who exactly first told me of the legend, but I believe it was a man of great strength who came from a family otherwise entirely comprised of dwarves. There is a great deal of magic said to be associated with dwarves, and as such, I am compelled to believe that maybe this particular legend isn't merely a legend at all. No, I am quite sure of it, in fact. The Ming Joint is real.

Around a squat glass patio table marred by cigarette ash and beer cans, the tobacco stink of a fresh cigar hanging low in the heavy atmosphere of nighttime beach air, I quaffed tawny port and listened as the Man From Dwarves began his tale.

It too had come to him as legend, the sort of hucksterism reserved for mad chatter in only the dingiest of opium dens, but like Pandora's box, its mystery yearned to be opened. As the story goes, there was a joint being passed around society's campfire, being partaken of by the tragically rich and silly poor -- a joint with humble beginnings and an ambiguous ending. You see, unlike most marijuana cigarettes whose lives begin and end with fire, the Ming Joint springs eternal. Its very name emerges from the legacy of an empire that refused to die.

Ex cinis cineris, ortus, roughly, is Latin for "out of ashes, birth." How appropriate that a dead language breathes the lifeblood of legend. You see, the Ming Joint works like this: Back in the sixties, a couple of real down cats (I speak in slang here, possibly in reference to African-Americans) had just blazed a fine doobie down, past what could nominally be considered "roach material." Now normally there was a James Bondian "live and let die" mentality to that little residual bit of weed left at the end of a solid hash session, but one of those men had a real far out notion. They would harvest all of the weed left over from all of their finest joints and store the collective in an empty Shinola can. Eventually, there would be enough to form a whole new -- and essentially free -- joint. And so the Ming Joint was born.

Now, had this been the end of it, likely the Ming Joint would merely be a footnote in counterculture lore -- a sort of bedtime story for stoners. But like the very mindset of those bygone druggies, the Ming Joint was about to engage in a whole new reality.

A chubby loner, who sagely called himself "Wizard" and who drove about the fringe of civilization in a van, happened upon the very instance of the communal blazing of that first Ming Joint. And in his infinite wisdom, he said, "let this light not die here." Or something like that... Anyways, his idea was that the Ming Joint should be smoked down to its residual splinters and then it too could be collected and stored. And it would not be wasted upon mere hippies with their skag weed, but it would be saved until such a time as it could be integrated with the ends of other Ming Joints (53 in all) and thus would be formed a second-generation Ming Joint. Maybe the others laughed, maybe they didn't, but in Wizard, passion was awakened.

Though Wizard and his van are long dead, I hear the original Ming Joint is still out there somewhere, now in its seventh generation, still being collected, lovingly saved by keepers of the true ideal, waiting for such a time as to when it can be forged... and reborn.