Welcome back to the ’90s.

Nostalgia for the decade of grunge, cigar jokes and debating who was hotter — Monica or Rachel? — is back in a big way in everything from music and fashion to art and television.

It’s no surprise, really. Ever since “Grease” and “Happy Days” ushered in a wave of ’50s-fueled retro as a backlash to the disco era, trends have been on a 20-year cycle. (Thankfully, we seemed to skip over the ’80s for the most part, because who needs to see leg warmers and Aqua Net hair again?)

A lot of us on the GO staff have fond memories of the ’90s. Political scandals and Y2K hysteria aside, it was a decade of unprecedented economic growth and an explosion in creativity and innovation. When the decade began, few owned a home computer, and the Internet was something used only by the government and scientists. Coffee came in two flavors: black and with cream and sugar. If you wanted to send someone a text message, you stuck it in an envelope with a stamp.

It was a fast-paced time buzzing with excitement for the future. A more innocent time, before 9/11, the Great Recession and the worst of humanity splayed out onto our TV screens 24-seven under the guise of “reality TV.”

Inside this special issue of GO, you will not only find a look back at the clothes, films, food and music that defined the decade (the good and the bad), but a look at how events of the ’90s continue to have ramifications today.

The thriving music and arts scene that defines Portland began in the ’90s. Maine’s reputation as a high-end restaurant destination gained steam, as did the modern “buy local” and organic food movements.

Today, Maine is a tourist destination not only for its fabled summer weather, beaches and seafood, but also for its cultural amenities, from its renowned museums and art galleries to its rich fine arts and theater community and its tremendous enclave of musical talent. And a big reason for that can be traced back to community efforts during the ’90s.

I hope you enjoy reading this issue as much as we had putting it together.

Deputy Managing Editor Rod Harmon may be contacted at 791-6450 or at: [email protected]