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A Border fence near Tijuana Alan Pogue BOOKS & THE CULTURE The Ordinary Extraordinary A Gathering of Pieces from a Region Transformed BY BARBARA BELEJACK THE LATE, GREAT MEXICAN BORDER: Reports from a Disappearing Line. Edited by Bobby Byrd and Susanna Mississippi Byrd. Cinco Punto Press. 1\\14 any years ago, many more than I care to remember, I walked across the bridge from Brownsville. to Matamoros to lis ten to Jorge Bustamante, the reigning guru of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, a Tijuana think-tank. Bustamante is a Mexico City lawyer and sociologist who took a longshot on academic exile in Baja California and won. He was about to tell us everything we needed to know about Life on the Border. He told us that Washington, New York City, Mexico City, The New York Times, the Washington Post \(and presumably those toiling away at gotten the story all wrong. “Every day,” Bustamante said emphatically, “thousands of ordinary transactions take place involving thousands of people along the U.S.-Mexican border.” No conflict, no confrontation, no violenceno story. I had lived in the Valley long enough to know what he was talking about: weddings and quinceafieras on both sides of the Rio Grande, trips to Matamoros for coffee, and root canals. Along with friends in Weslaco and their aunt in Reynosa, I occasionally indulged in a bit of small-time avocado smuggling. Just another one of those ordinary, everyday border transactions. Although his star has dimmed somewhat over the yearstoo much hob-nobbing with too many government officialsB ustamante still presides over the Colegio de la Frontera Norte and can still be counted on to diagnose the state of the 2,000-mile THE TEXAS OBSERVER 27 APRIL 11, 1997