So much blood loss is bleeding our city pale

I’m sitting in our first-floor office at 4th and Court streets Saturday night, minding my own business.Actually, I was blogging about Penn State football, which means I was sticking my nose into Joe Paterno’s business.Anyway, wrapped in my cocoon of concentration (you think these words just pour of me by just opening an artery and letting them gush out?), I was annoyed and distracted when I heard some shattering noise about 7:20 p.m.My initial reaction was somebody was unloading something on Fourth Street. Which struck me as odd for a Saturday night.Then I thought perhaps it was a car crash at Fourth and Court, an intersection which has had some violent collisions over the years.But then the sound of sirens soon echoed in the September air as cop cars, an ambulance and bystanders migrated like moths to a light, converging in the block just outside the Fourth Street door to our office. Yes, Fourth Street between Court and Penn last night was a busy bit of tapestry for all the wrong reasons.The torrents of sound were a regular Thunder Dome cascade of noise that pushed past my eardrums and entered my brain.We can mute our alarm clocks, but we can’t mute the alarm clock going off in our city.An alarm clock that keeps ringing and ringing as people keep pumping and pumping hot lead and gaping holes into other people.There’s blood on our streets and blood in our people’s eyes.While I sat blogging about Penn State, one man was fatally shot and another was wounded on the sidewalk just feet from our Fourth Street door.Like an artery bursting, another episode of needless violence had gushed into our city streets. Those loud, popping noises I had heard were gunshots.Since I was fortunate enough in my life to have been spared the proximity of gunplay until last night, this was a virgin experience for me.So forgive me for not recognizing what I was hearing. Trust me. I’ll know better the next time.Considering the frequency of gunfights in our town and considering I’ve worked in our town for nearly four decades, I probably was way past due hearing shots up close and personal.My initial thoughts on last night echo those of fellow blogger Mike Case, our resident local urban affairs observer.”While the city looks to revitalize its image, it seems to have forgotten that the real revitalization needs to be of the people who live here,” Mike wrote.Eloquently said, Mike.We need the Sovereign Center, we need the Sovereign Performing Arts Center, we need the GoggleWorks, we need Riverfest, we need all of our good mayor’s vision, we need all the economic and intellectual intercession of so many benevolent business benefactors like Al Boscov and others, we need a refurbrished Penn Street corridor from Wyomissing to City Park, we need a catchy marketing tagline to accompany our Greater Reading renaissance, and we need to build up the riverfront.But most of all we need less people to live here whose moral compass, or lack thereof, only points to their too itchy trigger fingers.Because we can’t keep spilling blood like this.Because too much blood loss is bleeding Reading pale.