Literary magazines come and go with alarming frequency, especially in this internet age where the requirements for establishing one have been greatly reduced. But rarely are the failures as spectacular as “Damascus Lounge.”

Its editor, Simon Wise, was well-connected in the city art scene, the scion of an important family, and a respected if not well-known author in his own right. The journal’s premise, soliciting only fine literature that contained, referenced, or promoted radical social change, struck a chord with the wealthy literary elite and guaranteed financial backing from numerous donors. Even before publication of the first issue, a combined physical and digital volume, there were enough stories from prominent or influential authors lined up to sustain the journal for months.

Yet it only produced two issues, one on February 1 and one dated March 1 that actually dropped on February 29. Simon Wise was accused of using the literary magazine as a Ponzi scheme, relying on volunteer labor to produce and edit the texts while pocketing donations and subscriptions.