– Susan Carpenter, “The hipster haven I call home,” LA Times (March 10, 2020)
Roughly speaking, grit is sand. When something is “gritty,” there are hard, coarse granules in the mix. Cornmeal is gritty; it’s not as refined as cake flour.
Figuratively, people who have grit may be crude, unpolished, lacking manners, unfashionable. But there is hard truth in them and strength of character. Like it or not, they are gritty night and day, never ground down by adversity or social pressure, not interested in smoothing things over.
When grittiness seems admirable, it is in contrast to fickleness or fatuity: in the dandy, the windbag, the high-society matron, or the hipster who has heard about everything already and liked it before you did, especially the early stuff.
Without hipster fatuity as a contrast, the old Highland Park was merely hardscrabble, trying to stay afloat, keeping the wolf from the door. The charming “rough edges” surrounded a material culture that was threadbare, chintzy, tacky, seedy, trashy, cheesy, like a cheap suit.
Grit is how you get by without wealth, social status, or education. Grit is truth without beauty.
Image: Adapted from Toulouse-Lautrec, Portrait of M. Delaporte (1893) via Wikimedia