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Giant chalkboard invites 'bucket list' wishes in Westchester

April 15, 2013|By Bob Pool

What's on your "bucket list"? Westchester resident Elliot Kharkats wants to know.

Inspired by similar projects that have sprung up around the world, the 33-year-old Russian-born Internet marketer installed a large chalkboard in the 8700 block of La Tijera Boulevard.

"Before I die I want to ...." are the words stenciled at the top of the chalkboard attached to a large gate on his backyard fence. Kharkats has provided chalk to encourage passersby.

PHOTOS: Chalkboard bucket list

"This board is for other people, not for me. This is an interactive art piece for other people," he said.

"A woman stopped when I was first putting it up. Nobody had written on it yet, and I said, 'Why don't you be the first?' She wrote that before she dies she wants to get married. That's when I wrote that before I die I want to have children," he said.

It's doable, he quickly added. "I've got a steady girlfriend."

Kharkats said many of the board's inscriptions are thoughtful: "I want to have my family forgive me." "I want to change someone's life." "I want to travel to another country and save lives."

One person confessed that "Before I die I want to finish my bucket list."

Others are more playful. One woman wrote that before she dies she wants "to have an affair." A male passerby who read that comment inquired if anyone had gotten her name and number.

About two years ago, urban planner Candy Chang placed the first "before I die" chalkboard on the side of an abandoned New Orleans house.

Chang encourages others to replicate her original chalkboard, even posting a free stencil template on the Internet that people can download and use to create their own signs.

Kharkats saw one in San Diego that prompted his action.

Passersby say they admire the chalkboard, although some aren't eager to contribute to it. Pierre Hörmann stopped to read the board's comments. "I'm almost tempted to write something. But I've done pretty much everything I've ever wanted to do," he said.

Although he erases the blackboard weekly to give more people a chance to bare their souls, Kharkats plans to keep the project going — and supplied with chalk — indefinitely. 

In case you can't make it to Westchester, tell us what's on your bucket list by commenting on this story or tweet @lanow with the hashtag #beforeIdie.

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bob.pool@latimes.com

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