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Animal House on Acid
The Barrington Hall Saga
A Memoir

Beverly Potter

Animal House on Acid is a memoir by a neighbor of the “most notorious housing unit on the face of the Earth.” Barrington Hall, a large student-run co-op on the Southside of the University, a few blocks off of Telegraph Avenue, was Berkeley’s last outpost of the ‘60s. Barringtonians, as they called themselves, held fast to the culture of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll long after it had ceased to be fashionable, and clung to the sanctity of individual expression—even to the point of covering up not only illegal but genuinely harmful acts with a cloak of silence, know as “Onngh Yanngh” Inside Barrington Hall, youth rebellion never grew old, because each year it was replenished with a new crop of eighteen-year-olds, sorry to have missed the ‘60s and glad to find a small chunk of it still alive just down the street from People’s Park on Dwight Way. Barrington became a victim of its own mythology—with a house culture dedicated to outrage, it eventually outraged everyone, even its allies.

Established as a co-op in the 1930s, by 1980
Barrington had become a continuing disaster for the USCA [University Students Coop Association]. Known internationally for live punk rock, LSD parties called “wine dinners” featuring spiked wine punch, open drug use, heroin use and over-doses, crashers and haven for under-age run-aways, raucous parties, kids going off the four-story roof, along with disputes with neighbors and other co-op houses and investigations by the City Council, Barrington sapped the patience of everyone involved. Something about the dispute was in the local news nearly every day. Finally neighbors’ filed a lawsuit.

Boarded up in March 1990,
Barrington’s spirit and romance lives on. In 2015,  25 years after it was boarded up, a large memorial poster was featured in the window of Rasputin Music on Telegraph Avenue honoring Barrington Hall, calling it a “petri dish of early San Francisco Bay Area Punk Rock.”    

Animal House on Acid is packed with side stories, such as the dope book publishers suing the dope den. Sebastian Orfali and Beverly Potter, publishers of Ronin Publishing that sprang from the ashes of the 1970’s break-through And/Or Press, were neighbors, literally under the windows of Barrington. When the press learned that Ronin (and And/Or before it) published marijuana cultivation books, a KCBS commentator remarked, “Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?”

Highlights punk bands that played at Barrington. like the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Flipper, Primus, Idiot Flesh, Lemmings, and others. Includes writings from The Slingshot, an anarchist newspaper that started in
Barrington, and much more.

Barrington was a launching pad/petri dish for early SF Bay Area Punk Rock.
[Memorial in Rasputin Music window]