Thursday, August 11, 2011


Earlier in the week we’d heard rumors of bad weather for Thursday. This comes after encountering two hours of precipitation in the mountains of northern New Mexico way back in May and not a drop of rain before or since. We’d also endured days of triple-digit temperatures and sweltering humidity, in New Orleans and Memphis and New York, which may be preferable to the skies opening up but such weather leaves you dripping just the same.

On this August evening in New York City the heavens couldn’t have been a more forgiving shade of blue.

Motorcycles & A Manhattan Sunrise

This morning was spent grinding out and polishing over all the nicks and imperfections that weren’t there last night. It is truly an amazing mystery how a piece of steel, touched by nothing but the air, can develop new scratches overnight. But art is art, and this cross was something more even, so kept at it we did, grinding and smoothing and polishing, again and again, aiming for perfection, not at all mindful of what was bound to happen to the metal on the ride down the highway and into Manhattan.

There were two more pizza boxes in the trash can when show time rolled around – the moment of truth when we’d find out just how straight (or not) the cross would stand. It would be far too tall for the rafters in the barn; we’d have to do it outside, on a patch of cracking, crumbling and most likely not level concrete. The cross was already back outside and waiting, the smaller portion of the base attached to its feet. The much larger part of the base, ten feet tall and five hundred pounds easy, was still inside. There were two dollies over in the corner, doing absolutely nothing – but the weight of the base would crush those small wheels right into the dirt of the barn floor. ‘Let’s just carry it,’ Jon said, not a hint of irony or sarcasm in his voice.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Working Toward a Miracle Finish

The final hours and days of the journey came not so much like a long-awaited summer afternoon but rather like the perfect storm.

Throughout the country Jon had the pleasure of showing his cross to thousands of admiring, appreciative people – and the luxury of telling them that ‘when it’s finished it will be polished to a mirror finish.’ That luxury was now a distant memory, as the next time Jon would show off his memorial – at a date and time coming fast – that promised mirror finish had to be there.

Probably not for the first time, Jon had his doubts.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Metal-Working & Paper-Pushing

Things have been hectic around the barn. Two months and five thousand miles can leave their mark.

To give the cross a proper final polish our hale and hearty metal workers have not been holding back. As of this afternoon three pieces of the cross lie on a thick blue padded blanket, shined and ready to go; the two parts that make up the arms are being touched up under the skilled hand of Anthony Serrao; the heart of the cross, a huge four-pointed star, leans up against a saw horse as Jon grinds it down and buffs it out and polishes it up once again. Thursday is indeed approaching fast, so fast that Jon has had to put yours truly in charge of sticking an orbital sander to the broad, blemished surface of the ten-foot-tall stainless steel base.

The all-important permit process continues to evolve as well. Surprisingly enough, Jon will not be able to simply show up in Manhattan with a 28-foot sculpture and a crane; sticklers from some city department are demanding paperwork and payment. (Unlike the other eight thousand people we’ve met, these strident rule and regulation types seem utterly emotionally unmoved by Jon’s undertaking.)

All joking aside, we have entered the homestretch and have plenty yet to accomplish. From early morning to late at night Jon and Anthony are making monumental, incremental strides in readying the cross for its upcoming unveiling. The generator is humming. Sounds of squealing, grinding metal fill the air, reverberating in this cavernous thirty-tress barn. It’s pizza for dinner again.

What an incredible, unbelievable journey.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Final Days of the Journey

Anthony Serrao working his magic in the studio.
After a brief hiatus we are back and ready for the final push, preparing the Cross for the official unveiling.

Anthony Serrao, Jon's right hand man in the studio since the first days of the project, flies in today from Los Angeles, bringing his know-how, expertise and as much hardware as they will allow on the plane. In these next few days, Jon and Anthony will be grinding and welding and polishing away in an undisclosed location in New Jersey - though if you ask Jon he'll probably tell you where it is if you tell him you'll bring Gatorade.

The unveiling and dedication, as some of you may know, will take place this coming Thursday, August 11th at 6:00 pm outside St. Peter's Catholic Church, on the corner of Barclay & Church Streets in Lower Manhattan, just one block northeast of the former site of the World Trade Center. All are invited to take part in what promises to be an exciting and emotional event. There will be a reception immediately following the ceremony; beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served. Location to be announced here and on Twitter.

Please don't forget to like the St. Peter 9-11 Cross facebook page! We have an ambitious goal of 1,000 likes by the time the Cross goes up on the 11th - please urge your friends to give us a click on facebook today!

The Journey is almost complete. Thank you all for all your support along the way.

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday.